Let’s Go Back to the Future

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Let’s Go Back to the Future

Last night, on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi‘s birth anniversary, I came across an article titled ‘Where was Gandhiji born? Only 4 out of 10 gave the correct answer.’ [link]

What was the big deal anyway? While my outlook is not even half as non-violent as the Mahatma’s,  I have utmost respect for him.

But for questions like when was someone born, or where? History? I always seemed to have had a problem with History. Beyond doubt, History has a lot to offer us. After all, we cannot afford to figure out, experiment, and make all the mistakes ourselves. Things that have worked, or that haven’t; how lives have evolved, etc. all help us with decisions of today. History also inspires us. It tells us about something that has probably never been done before. Or, that people have tried but have all failed. It indirectly challenges people like you and me to prove History wrong. By knowing what is impossible, we can strive to make it possible.

History #1

On the flip side, I guess we humans also saw in History, that the problem of global warming did not exist till the late 19th century; and unfortunately, we seem to have taken it upon ourselves to change that too.

While growing up, what we were often taught in the name of History, was little short of nothing. I remember being scared before history tests. Struggling to remember dates and events. That is what was most focused upon. Who was someone’s husband or wife; or third wife or fourth husband of the second son or daughter? More confusing than my own family tree, which I still have a lot of trouble figuring out. Or when was this battle fought? Would you care, if you have trouble remembering your own spouse’s birthday. If not for family and friends, I’d probably have forgotten my birthday a long time ago.

History #2

Instead, History is actually a brilliant opportunity to teach children about life, the evolution of life, and so on. Teach them more about various cultures and religions; so that we come to respect cultures and religions better. To cultivate better understanding in them by asking them what they would have done in a similar situations from history. To encourage ideas and challenge children about things that were considered impossible up until now. 

And all the energy and brain-space we would save by not having to remember the ‘whats’ and ‘whens’ of history, can then be focused to understand the ‘why’ and ‘why not’ instead. Isn’t that what the Mahatma did? Change History?

History #3 - lego-gandhi

Image: Link

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The Ultimate Power

Reading Time: 4 minutes

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.”Mahatma Gandhi

A friend of mine recently came across an article titled ‘The Indian who admires Adolf Hitler‘.

While I do not admire Hitler, am sure his leadership and command have left many a man desiring for that kind of power.

Here’s my view. Pardon the extremely layman language used. That’s the best my brain can handle.

age-of-empires-3-706666_506

After the nomadic phases and through the “take by force” and “conquer” phases, we as a race have more or less settled into a more peaceful and harmonious way of living (with the exception of certain countries that continue to attack other countries and harbour terrorists, and barring the internal unrest in several countries as well). But more or less, the world has moved away from a high risk-high reward way of things (achieved by conquering countries or kingdoms, etc., where there was a high possibility of getting obliterated, but on the upside, there were great spoils in the event of a victory) to a life with average returns (produce, business, foreign trade, what have you) and reasonably predictable outcomes for the present and future.

That being the case, many of us harbour inside us, a desire for those unreasonably high rewards (that were earlier achieved by conquest). In our humble day-to-day routines, that desire could be in any form; from resolving a tough problem at work, to getting a 2x profit or raise in salary. A more befitting example might be the underlying wish of many if not most, to get preferential treatment without having to pay for it. It is different to get 7-star treatment after having to pay for it by spending a fortune first, but to command that kind of respect, and high service just because you are “YOU”, that is something many people desire.

And we know but a few men from the history of the world who commanded / demanded that kind of respect/ fear/ royal treatment. Hitler was one of them. And he was among the more prominent ones from that tiny elite group. So, while most of us would not even think of carrying the burden of the unspeakable cruelties he brought upon millions of people, the thought of that ultimate power, an army ready to go to any lengths at your slightest signal, and so on, I believe appeals to many. Hence, the admiration that some people have for him.

baby-hitler2

But on the flip side of it, and I am sure many of us would have observed, that most of the greatest and noblest of deeds have been accomplished without the need or use of such power, force or oppression. Hence, the achievement of the ultimate power tends to become contrary to the type of people most of us are. So I guess it becomes just a fantasy with no further purpose or objective.

It is something like, most of us envy jobs at NASA, or of becoming astronauts. I know I do. But wouldn’t a good percent of people back out, were they given a “wild card” entry to their dream job? Of the rest, many would probably quit during training, or on experiencing the rigors of a simulated space environment.

Aldrin

Or, for a simpler instance, while most of us would drool on seeing an Aston Martin or a Rolls Royce, many of us would not know what to do or where to drive one, were we gifted or presented with one. Don’t worry about me, I’ll figure what to do with one. But I mean the fuel and brilliant mileage itself could leave you broke in a month. Anyway, never mind all that. Back to the point.

Aston_Martin_V12_Zagato

Like the flight simulator games a lot of us like, if there were a simulator that took us through the horrors that took place in the dozens of Auschwitz concentration camps, I don’t think Hitler would have that many admirers left. And if you read more about the cruelties caused to children who were put through torturous experiments under instructions from eduard wirths, you would not only detest Hitler, but also question the sanity of anyone who claims to admire Hitler. It is just that, like many other things around us, we have learnt to look only at what we like, and imagine the rest of it isn’t there.

Gandhi

                             Mother Teresa

So, essentially, if paths to immortality is what you’re looking for, I really don’t think we’d need to look beyond Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa for inspiration. And if change is what we seek, I suppose we just need more Mahatmas and Mother Teresas.

All you need is love