Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Reflections on 'The Forgotten Map'

The passage points out the mistake in the decision taken by humanity which has led to a global crisis. The human race was so near, yet so far from the right decision. A little thought in the right direction would have taken us on a different bifurcation, and hence, on a completely different life.
To cement this truth, the passage tells us about several examples for justification.
Giovanni Bernardone, who would later on be remembered the world over by the name Francis of Assisi described of a world where love was not only possible but also made sense and had a universal meaning.
However the world today follows Machiavelli’s ideas which are based on the ‘it is much safer to be feared than to be loved’ notion and we have constructed our social, physical, political and economic conceptions based on this.
We continue torturing nature in order to extract her from what we believe is the truth. This is in line with Francis Bacon’s idea of belief in absolute truth and in the possibilities of certainty.
We did not navigate the route of Bruno. Rather we chose the route of Descartes and as a result, we have witnessed the triumph of mechanism and reductionism.
Due to this tendency of the human race, feeling, intuition, consciousness and spirituality are still banished from the realm of science.
We have arrived at a point in our evolution which is characterized by the fact that we know a lot but we understand very little. We might have achieved all the knowledge that we could ever gained; and some more. But we will some day realize that all this knowledge is nothing without understanding. That we will never understand this knowledge unless practically applying all of it.
There are those amongst us who, in Goethe’s perspective are concerned with the relation between science and spirituality and are becoming aware that knowledge is not enough and that we have to learn through understanding in order to achieve completeness of our being and our science. We have to realize that knowledge without understanding is hollow and understanding without knowledge is incomplete.
The passage also describes the various themes that every generation has followed throughout the ages. This is generally seen in the form of a design language. This language shapes our perceptions and hence our actions.
The first three centuries of the second millennium was influenced by a teleological language. This era saw the construction of great cathedrals and monasteries. This was possible because the people believed that the importance lay in the deed and not in the time it might take.
The language dominating the 19th century was that of consolidation of the nation state. It was only in the 20th century that the dominant language became that of economics, especially during the second half. This saw the emergence of the Keynesian language during the period of the Great Depression.
This was followed by the language of neo-liberal discourse in the 20th century, one which is dominating even today. This is characterized by global poverty, debt burden, brutal over-exploitation of people and natural resources, destruction of ecosystems and accumulation of wealth. The disastrous effect of this language is for everyone to see, although decision makers prefer to look in the opposite direction.
We convince ourselves that we belong to a successful culture. However, we do not realize that we are still incomplete; materially over developed but spiritually poor. And it is this incompleteness and poverty that is responsible for the uneasiness and anxiety that gave permeated the world today.
Perhaps, the moment has arrived to rest and reflect. The time has come to unearth a forgotten map; to start seeing our brothers and sisters surrounding us and to start believing in the possibility of a harmony between many possible truths.

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