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Make a virtue of necessity

By Dr. Panayiotis K. Mavros

I lay comfortably on my sofa, one of my treasured possessions, zapping through the various TV channels contemplating what was happening around the world and how man reached the lowest point of human humiliation, when it happened that an interesting programme aroused my curiosity and impulsively made me sit up and watch it.

The discussion was really interesting since it centred around the big bang theory, the violation of the laws of nature, the divine harmony of the Universe, sinful Cain and sinless Abel and others which, I feel inclined to confess, led the course of my meditations to a concrete conclusion: The bitter truth, whether we like to admit it or not, is that man has failed to keep a grip on himself in order to achieve internal peace that would enable him to liberate himself, keep his balance, maintain his sense of direction in life and eventually achieve external peace.

Therefore the creation of a global family without hatred, wars, bloodshed and wickedness has remained an unrealised dream.

We have already leapt into the new millennium without a ray of sunshine into our lives, for humanity is once more in the middle of a vicious circle. Quo Vadis?

Nowhere, that is, where we have always been since the past of mankind, despite the positive strides made in many fields, cannot in any way be a matter for pride.

On the contrary, it has been a pretty beastly business dominated by wars, brutality, plundering, bullying and hopeless cries of agony we very lightly attribute to man’s greedy nature to possess, gorge, grab and hurt.

In this way we subconsciously invent excuses to pacify our guilty conscience so that we will not invest any effort in the task of changing our tragic course at individual, national and international levels.

It is not accidental that the most glorified men in history are conquerors and generals, who massacred peoples, devastated countries and eliminated nations thus taking a place in the history books as heroic figures being among the immortals.

On the other hand, people whose contribution to civilization was invaluable, fell into oblivion.  It is tragically true that our civilization favours superficiality at the expense of depth, it promotes hypocrisy and rejects truth, it lays emphasis on individuality and ignores collective work, it glorifies cruelty and despises altruism.

No matter how hard we try to view things optimistically, it is impossible to do so as long as our civilization glorifies and praises fighting and killing thus justifying the motto “might is right”.

Yet, there were times in the history of humanity when messages of love were disseminated all over the world reviving hopes for peace and a better, brighter and more beautiful and civilized tomorrow for man, who believed in tremendously positive developments that would demolish the rotten structure of our superficial civilization which deified the power of militarism and imperialism contrary to any sense of justice.

Unfortunately, hypocrisy and phariseeism have reigned and the tragic irony lies in the fact that injustice is done in the name of honesty, decency, human rights and people’s freedom.

People have failed to conceive and penetrate into the philosophical messages that fill in the existential vacuum, which presupposes the acquisition of inner peace and freedom.  It is inconceivable to hope for peace if we ourselves are not capable of obtaining inner peace.

It is unimaginable to crave for freedom if we ourselves cannot acquire inner freedom, which will enable us to restrain and control our greedy nature that has reduced us to the state of being miserable creatures, whose chief interest is “Ego”.

We cannot fail to recall the words of the great French philosopher Jean Paul Satre, when he said that man regards his fellow man as an enemy “Others are hell”.

Satre’s words did justice to him in the most triumphant fashion for alienation has “established” itself as the scourge of humanity; people mind their our business, everything centres around their “Ego” and, what is more, they are even willing to step over dead bodies to maintain their interests at the expense of their fellow men.

The emphasis is on material values, which unavoidably lead to injustice, exploitation, hatred and wars that we tragically accept as a normal situation without any protest.

It is most probable that we are aware of the fact that we have styled our way of life in the same miserable fashion arrogantly ignoring the great humanitarian Raul Follerau, whose wise words: “Nobody has the right to enjoy happiness on his own”, should ring in our ears on a permanent basis.

Humanity has experienced years of hatred and wars and the prospects for the future are gloomy.  However, I cannot fail to conclude my article pessimistically without a ray of hope, for I am convinced that one day man will be obliged to steer a right course when he has come to a dead end in his efforts to construct a new Babel Tower.

In other words man will make a virtue of necessity, which might ultimately prove the saviour of humanity. I conclude resorting to C.E.M. Joad’s words which could serve as a ray of sunshine into our lives and a ray of hope left for us.

“Nations and countries still behave like savages.  But we must not expect too much.  From the point of view of evolution, human beings are very young children indeed.  All we can ask is that they will sometimes have done something else…”

Dr Panayiotis Mavros, B.A, M.A, PhD is a former Education Inspector and Chief Education Officer. Ministry of Education and Culture.

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