Dr. Narayan Narsingh Khatri
Pollution that erodes waters, airs and the scenic beauties exists not only environmentally but also socially distorting the entire spectrum of the human relationships at various levels. Relations are merely nominal these days. Relations between the parents and the children, the spouses, the brothers and the sisters and amongst the neighbors and the human beings are not that cordial, warm, and affectionate the way they used to be in the good old days.
The most determinant reason behind such polluted relations is selfishness. ‘Self first’ is what today’s people accept as the be-all and end-all of life. Everyone is serious just for oneself and acts indiscriminately for self benefit. ‘Aafu banche matra sansar dekhna painchha—one can see and enjoy the World only when one survives’ belief is the root cause of the selfishness that is victimizing today’s world. I do not disagree the literal meaning of the belief, but I cannot agree its metaphorical meaning too. The twenty first century Homo sapiens—defined as ‘ sensible human beings’— cannot believe that some people somewhere could enjoy the World where others are dying.
There is hardly any area that has not suffered the ‘self first’ paranoia and there is hardly any player that has not contributed to it. Examples abound: Politicians amass wealth deceitfully, medical practitioners and accountants prepare false reports, engineers recommend payments for below-standard works, lawyers bend the truth, bureaucrats/public officials use their positions to extract bribes from the service seekers, citizens use political influence to obtain special favors, businesses create shortages to earn more from below-quality products, and educational institutions issue degrees/certificates without imparting adequate amount of wisdom and knowledge to the students. It is true both globally and locally and truer in countries like ours.
The value of the good old days that taught ‘how to live’ is now replaced by ‘how to make a living’ teachings; the ethics that taught ‘मातृ देवो भव: पितृ देवो भव: आचार्य देवो भव: अतिथि देवो भव:—respect the Mother, the Father, the Guru, and the guests as gods and goddesses’ does not figure anywhere. Today’s parents cease to be of any importance to the children once they grow old, feeble, and poorer for having spent their entire earnings in nurturing, upbringing and educating their children; today’s spouses are no more the ‘Muna and Madan’ couple that loved each other so truly to the neglect of wealth—a symbol of all material amenities and comforts of life. ‘Utility’ has been today’s ethics and the word of the mouth. ‘Throw anyone to the dustbin once the person in question ceases to be of any utility ‘is the value today’s people abide by.
People may ask: what is value and where does it come from? My answer to them remains: values are prescriptions that are tested against some underlying assumptions—ethical codes. Values are critical in enabling mankind face trade-offs while choosing among their commitments without any feeling of guilt. Values emanate from ethical/normative premises and offer a benchmark for what is desirable, and what is not. Values embody fairness and justice that respect needs and rights of others. Values influence the heart.
Physically, human beings are most ill-equipped of all the creatures. Neither can they fly like birds, nor swim like dolphins, nor run like leopards, nor are strong enough like elephants. These shortcomings are , however, well compensated with the ‘ability to think’ that nature has gifted on humankind. Values relate to how human beings make the best use of this greatest gift.
Animals of any kind are born with five senses—touch, taste, sight, smell and hearing. Human beings are superior to others simply because they are blessed with an additional sense—the sixth sense— the common sense. It embodies both positive and normative senses. It is the normative sense that helps human beings set their values— I call it the Y intercept in a human body’s graph—the bottom line of ‘how down to get down’. Call it an irony that the word value is now confined to the dictionary only.
The already eroded human relationship is further deteriorated by the Covid-19 contagion. Everyone is scared of the others—‘my cough is just a cough and someone else’s cough is nothing but Corona’ is what everyone suspects today. I do not undermine the necessity of physical distancing, I do not disagree that precaution of every sort is not needed to stay safe. But the hatred some of the locals in Chitwan staged to Dr. Bishwa Bandhu Bagale—the Medical Superintendent of Ratnanagar Hospital— is something that deserves a strong condemnation from all around. Is it how humans are expected to behave a health personnel who somehow had to fall prey to Corona for having fulfilled his responsibility of working as a front line warrior while combating the Corona itself? I do not know the doctor personally. But again, I take it just an irony—it is a shame to the entire human beings and a shame to the so-called human civilization, if exists at all. People are hot with shame and with their heads bowed down. Remember, inhumane action anywhere is a curse to the entire humanity everywhere.
I pity the people of Chitwan for having failed to use the greatest gift—ability to think— bestowed on them. The government seems helpless, hopeless and measureless to handling the Corona pandemic and people share a fair share of it for they have mostly ignored to follow the health protocols. We are to live with Corona for some more time to come. Corona has just begun, not ended. How could our survival be harmonious should we start treating our own fellow citizens this way at its very embryonic stage? How could we allow the ethics— one is best to himself/herself only when s(he) is reasonably good to others— to get lost so badly? Feel just one thing: how much could you have been hurt had some others treated you the same way? What you get is the answer in itself. Forget it not that a Corona positive patient needs to be put away just physically not mentally. S(he) requires more attention, care and love than before. This could cost mostly nothing to anybody and may not make any body succumb to the Corona contagion.
Today’s education system is one of the root causes of all this. Michael Severn, the president of Columbia University resigned in 1993 after having served the university for many years. A reporter asked him if there was anything that he wished but could not perform. ‘Yes’, I could not start instructions in ethics’ replied Severn.
My readers might have thought that I have deviated from the issue I am dealing with. It is not really so. One who cannot be good to the fellow citizens cannot be good to their individual units as well. For such people; nothing matters except what they feel, believe and conceive. They are just mental!
Today reminds me of the nostalgic moments I spent with my late father in the days gone. I miss him a lot. I wish every father a very happy Father’s Day!