By: Salini Johnson, India
It is written in white on an olive green background board erected at Nathula Pass, traversing the Old Silk Route, that, “Sleep peacefully at your homes, Indian Army is guarding the frontiers”. The first time I saw this, instead of feeling reassured, I was perplexed. Why should we be scared of our neighbours? Granted that there are physical, cultural and geographical differences between various groups of people living in varied regions of the globe, but these are purely evolutionary variations. In essence, we are all made of flesh and blood and, as far as a rational mind can see, we all are children of Mother Earth meant to coexist peacefully. Then why is Man so intent on securing his ‘borders’ day and night?
The shortest answer to this question would be ‘fear’. Aristotle once wisely said, “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.” Over centuries, mankind has forgotten to feel true fraternity. Our eyes have turned blind to who our true brothers are. If the colour of the skin of a fellow being is not the same as ours, we demarcate our land from theirs and proudly proclaim the divide as our ’border’. Then under the pretext of granting him the title of our ‘esteemed neighbour’, we single him out as our enemy. We are scared of what our neighbour is about to do. Similarly seeing us conniving against him, this poor fellow too gets scared. In the end, we eye each other as potential foes in private while we exchange handshakes and sugar-coated words in public. As time and technology progress, we build complex defence equipments to ‘defend’, even if the poor of our nations are starving to death by the minute.
We would go to any extent to guard our ‘borders’ against impending attacks – commission great scientific minds to split atoms when they ought to be eradicating the nation’s food crisis; form the armed forces, one each for land, water and air, and so on. We devise more and more such imprudent plans and set aside a chunk of our revenue as ‘defence expenditure’. It is as if we are restraining ourselves from being friendly to one’s own friend. All this hard work accomplish nothing but in aiding to mount up the tension, until one day it reaches its zenith and the most disgusting trait of humankind reveals itself in the form of War. In War, a man finds himself unable to recognize one of his own. He revels in destruction and despair until finally, he is forced to wave the white flag and beg for peace. The same man, who did not think twice about pulling the trigger on his brethren, now laments his lost dear ones in the aftermath of his own brainchild, War.
Oh! There’s more as the ordeal does not end here. Over the years, we have become adept at jailing people who stray over to ‘our’ country. One step over the invisible, man-made ‘border’ and you are in for a lifetime. One night, Sarabjit Singh, an Indian farmer who lived in a village near the India-Pakistan border, wandered off accidentally in a drunken haze to the other nation’s territory. He was captured, tried and sentenced to death which he and his family assert is a case of mistaken identity. Anyway he has been under solitary confinement in the Kot Lakhpat prison in Lahore for the last twenty years and still is. This is only an instance from thousands of people of one nation languishing in the dingy prison cells of another nation and vice versa. Simultaneously, on a different level altogether, glasses are chinked together after diplomatic talks and round table conferences to toast for a friendship that exists only on paper. These so-called talks and dialogues are doled out at plush venues from time to time with no tangible results to show. After all, what do they know of an agonizing lifetime devastated by years of incarceration endured between the pressing walls of a prison cell? The fact that we, the youth care about these precious lives withering away in prisons, irrespective of their nationality, is the greatest message we can convey to the leaders of the world.
Why can’t we for once accept the fact that we all are one? Now it is the reign of ‘me, myself and I’ and our mindsets simply refuse to accommodate another individual, let alone another nation. Fear has got the better of us. Even while doing something, our one eye keeps track of what our neighbour is up to. Our insecurity and fear have destroyed too many and too much. Numerous invaluable lives have been laid in our country’s name. But when we accept the World as our nation, amity among all is bestowed. Then there would no longer be unreasonable fear stalking us in our dreams, no more lives to be perished and no more Borders and Wars. But to attain all these we need to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, as our Holy texts have preached since time immemorial. As the French writer Anais Nin has said, “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of withering, of tarnishing.” These words have beautifully captured the path to redemption for mankind and it is up to us to do the rest.
Written By: Salini Johnson, India who is an undergraduate student of English Language and Literature at Govt. College for Women, Trivandrum under the University of Kerala, India.
She was the KVS National Topper in Humanities in Class XII , 2010-2011.
This article is a contest entry in the “ Your Message to the World Contest” conducted by Opptunity.. Inspiring youth! (http://www.opptunity.com/ymtw-2011/).
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