Beginning of the End?

To say humankind is going through critical times is an understatement. We just need to open our eyes to recognize that the manner in which human affairs is being conducted is only hastening the human community towards a catastrophic destination. We have no one to blame but ourselves, fundamentally because, we the people, seem to have lost the voice of critical protest. We seemed to have forgotten the forewarning of Dr. Martin Luther King, when he reminded us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” So is this the beginning of the end.

The human inability to reconcile with Mother Nature and our unwillingness to evolve a respectful and ethical relation with nature has driven us to the threshold of obliteration. The notion of globalization, rather than being a process towards interdependence has become a process by which human beings are becoming increasingly homogenous at the global level – defined as Western and Modern – which assumingly becoming heterogeneous at the local level, with re-tribaling consequences.  

The final outcome from the interplay between Westernization, Modernization and Globalization has been described by Francis Fukayama as the ‘End of History.’ Indeed these are critical times! What about the ever rising gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots; or how about the unresolved problem of production? Meanwhile, the contradicting pursuit of power on one hand and the struggle for human dignity on the other hand remains as divided as it has ever been since the dawn of human history. Our inability to find an imaginative way to resolves it has only widened the gap. The War on Terror is a case in point.     

Tensions between these two contradicting objects – power and rights – have invariably made dehumanization and humanization as inevitable destinations in human history. The manner in which human affairs are being conducted has quite clearly pointed the present human discourse towards the direction of dehumanization; a result of indifference exhibited by the majority. Dr. King again reminds us, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

However, the most crucial question during these critical times is the question of the state. The modern state that emerged out of the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, after the Thirty Years War, has accordingly had the most impact on human societies and affected the manner in which they consequently organized patterns of human association. The problems around state legitimacy, territorial integration, monopoly of force, negation of indigenous form of democratic governance stems out of Westphalia, which has come to represent the reference point for a Euro-centric state system, successfully exported during colonial rule.   

Indeed, humankind is going through critical times and unless we change the direction of our path, I am afraid to even imagine the consequences. It is of absolute necessity for the people to rediscover their voices of critical protest and to interrogate the existing systems that govern human affairs. The importance of critical imagination as a means of resistance and creation of new systems can neither be overemphasized nor underplayed. If the alternative endeavor for a world based on mutual respect and interdependence and one in which the power relations is based on ‘power with’ and not ‘power over,’ the essence of constructive and critical protest must be rediscovered, less amnesia leads us to the grave.