“I decline to accept the end of men.
Man is man, enduring and immortal”
sang William Faulkner in 1965 when he was awarded the Noble Prize for Literature. And indeed the entire chronicle of man’s immortality lies in the scorching and shattering! dumb, suffering, he has endured, in his heroic march towards the attainment of peace on earth. This being part of a historic pattern, men will have to struggle and endure. But our destiny today has taken a different turn. Our tragedy, today, is a general and Universal fear. There are no longer the sublime problems of the spirit and soul. There is only the ever haunting question:
When will I be blown up with the first booming sound of the first megaton bomb to be dropped on earth.
Ever since the beginning of the Fifties, with the formation of · the two rival Power blocs, mankind has been standing on the edge of ‘confused and bewildered frontiers the frontiers of unfulfilled hopes and threats. But what we face today is a grim challenge. Stretched before us are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus. The harsher and grimmer facts of the matter are that we stand on this frontier at a crucially turning point in human history, at a time when humanity is. passing through the most critical place of its existence. There is a crisis in our human civilization; we have been subjected to a state of complete spiritual and moral bankruptcy.
The cardinal factor which has brought about this dangerous situation is the prostitution of science by the power drunk statesmen and leaders of the time. Under the control of modern man, science has ignored its ultimate purpose and is looking at the material facts alone. It made the world jump forward with a sudden leap, build up a glittering civilization, opened up innumerable avenues for the growth of knowledge and added to the power of man to such an extent that he began to consider himself a demi-God. But soon the illusion was shattered and he began to realize his basic mistake.
Horrors of science have made human civilization fatal in its very ideals, not to talk of practicability. At every new invention of mass-devastating devices, man shudders. The engines of destruction, which science created for man, have been nightmares for him.
Says Bertrand Russell, an eminent modern-thinker and pacifist: The Atom Bomb and still more the Hydrogen Bomb have caused new fears involving new doubts as to the effects of science on human life. Some eminent authorities, including Einstein, have pointed out that there is a danger of extinction of all life on this planet. I do not myself think that this will happen in the next war, but I think it may well happen in the next but one, if that is allowed to occur. We have to choose within the next fifty years or so, between two alternatives. Either we must allow the human race to exterminate itself, or we must forego certain liberties which are very dear to us, more especially the liberty to kill foreigners whenever we feel so disposed. I think it probable that mankind will choose its own extermination as the preferable alternative. The choice will be made, of course, by persuading ourselves that it is not being made since (so militarists on both sides will say) the victory of the right is certain without the risk of universal disaster. We are perhaps living in the last age of man if so it is to science that he will owe his extinction.
The new dangers to which our race is exposed, have come more from within our own soul and mind than from without. We have been reduced to a static state of spiritual and ethical paralysis. Mankind, as a matter of fact, has never been in such a horrifying and shocking danger of imminent mass-destruction since the date, part of the way through the Paleolithic Age, when our ancestors once and for all, gained the upper hand overall non-human nature on this planet except bacteria. Non-human living creatures have never been so dangerous to man as the man himself has now come to be at a moment when he has got the better of bacteria, though not of himself. The whole world, today, presents a spectacle of a war camp. Armies – equipped with the latest weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear bombs and other formidable devices, are in perpetual readiness. Even though there is no war, the world politicians are busy in negotiating peace. Dr. Laddle Hart, an eminent American Sociologist, writing about this military readiness, in his book Disaster or Defence says: With the increased state of readiness, the threat of a catastrophe increases. According to reports by the American Press, the irresponsible trust in chances has gone pretty far in the U.S.A. Ninety percent of the supply of nuclear weapons is at the disposal of the Air Force.
Command, primarily the Strategic Air Command which includes the intercontinental ballistic missiles and medium-range rockets. One-third of the American Strategic Air Force is in a state of readiness and can take off within fifteen minutes with atom bombs on board. Objectively, this represents an increased possibility of an accidental source of war.” Similar is the case with the Russian Air Force. Then there are other formidable hurdles which block the path of world peace. The biggest of these is the clash of ideologies. Already the world stands divided into two militant ideological blocs–the Western bloc and the Soviet Communist bloc. Fortunately, there has sprung up, of late, the Third bole-of the nonaligned countries-yet due to a number of reasons, this bloc cannot play its role as effectively as it ought to have done. Peace-loving people all the world over look to the U.N.O. for inspiration, but they shrink back as soon as they hear the terrible news of the nuclear explosions, made by U.S.A. or the Soviet Union. The doctrine of coexistence has been flouted everywhere; the weaker nations are living under constant threat of invasion from the powerful ones.
Is it not a great irony that the principles of co-existence are being miserably violated and wrecked by the modern “overcivilized” people all the world over? Power-intoxicated leaders of the world, who are pinning their faith on the cult of violence and aggression, have been flouting the doctrine of peaceful co-existence.
Man’s loss of faith in the doctrine of peaceful co-existence has resulted in the Cold War. The Cold War is nothing but a psychological reflection of the horrors of war on people’s mind. The principal issues of the Cold War are ‘fear’, mutual distrust’, ‘violence’, aggression’, ‘hatred’ and selfishness’. These have undermined man’s spiritual strength. Consequently, humanity has been shaken so much that there is no hope of its revival into vitality, Everywhere there is tension. Race in the production of armaments is going on at the fastest possible speed. Disarmament conferences have been ‘utter failures’ peace talks have been reduced to mockery and the so-called Summit Conferences have been mere ‘much ado about nothing”. The result of all these has been that the world has been brought to the brink of a shooting hot war.
The ideological cleavage between East and West, despite so many Summit Meets and change-of-heart negotiating machinery, is getting widened almost every day. Military Pacts and Alliances, like NATO, SEATO, CENTO, Warsaw Part etc. are intensifying the bitter: relations between the two opposite aggressive blocs. The United Nations Organization, which, indeed has been making sincere efforts to bring about world peace and international co-operation, is being sabotaged by the evil designs of the Power blocs. In short, the situation of the world is not only bad but hopeless. We need planning for peace, in an ideal sense.
This, however, is planning for peace as distinguished from planning for war. The two require widely different techniques; construction is more difficult than destruction. In planning for peace, it is slow and steady that wins the race. The planning for war, on the other hand, requires the lion’s leap and the eagle’s sweep. Successful generals take the enemy by storm. Hence both require different temperaments. Winston Churchill, England’s war-time Prime Minister, was a failure in time of peace. Great generals may conquer lands, but cannot plan for their development. That requires a balanced approach, statistical acumen and practical bent of mind together with firm execution. It requires more patience, a slow but sure pace. It is not merely a matter of appeal to emotions but that of consolidation of the labor of the country. It requires engineers, overseers, laborers, businessmen, teachers and all other classes in the country, while planning for war mainly depends on national forces. Ministers and not generals are the pioneers in the field of planning for peace.
And it is more difficult, too, since it aims at achieving something permanent, something solid and useful. It takes no time to arouse the tension of war but it requires much efforts to establish at the atmosphere of peace.
Then, will human civilization be in the end cast into oblivion? “Will all the inspiring and ennobling dreams of Plato; Aristotle and Kant come to nothing? Has the doomsday at last arrived? No, beyond the dark and dreadful horizon there glimmers a ray of hope. Beyond the haze of daily crisis, there are visible the outlines of a robust and vital world-community, founded on nations, secure in their independence, dedicated to freedom and united by allegiance to world-peace and internațional justice. The currents of the world history of the past have flowed, always, towards the shore of creative perfection. Every dark night is followed by clear bright dawn. Humanity is to survive, after all. War is to be out-dated; warmongers must be branded as the worst of criminals, and instead of army commanders, ambassadors of peace and love will march across the world. Man’s ultimate faith is to be found on the rocks of peace.
For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding calls not thee to guard.