MIDWAY : Dashain introspection

There is a bit of nip in the air. Dry spells are interspersed with cloudbursts. This can only portend the advent of the biggest festival of all Hindus: Dashain. And yet, dismay engulfs me.

This year we might well celebrate the restoration of peace. Maybe, those who lost their loved ones during the bloody conflict in the last decade can finally do so without a sense of guilt. Meanwhile, the larger part of the population that by and large were not directly affected by the insurgency, is all agog in anticipation of fun and frolic that lies ahead.

The event is celebrated as the triumph of the good over evil. But how we demarcate between the two? Have ever the forces of good won a total victory and not submitted to the forces of dark? During the Second World War, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, the democratic leaders of the “free world”, were forced to succumb to the wishes of Joseph Stalin, the Russian dictator — and all in the name of the greater “good” of mankind. Hitler was popularly elected head of the government before he embarked on a ruthless campaign to purge Jews.

I find this moral relativism nauseating. Everybody is out to safeguard their own ‘interests’, not caring a fig how their actions might affect the others.

Stem cell research might save thousands of lives and yet the richest country in the world declines to fund it. And the leader of the free world continues to pooh-pooh the notion of collective action, for no other country, he asserts, has the moral obligation “to spread goodness”. The do-gooders in Swamis and Babas continue to lull their audiences through lofty words. Closer home, people lose their lives in the outskirts while their representatives bicker over petty partisan interests.

Dashain reminds me of all things vile in human beings. How can one celebrate when nearly half the population can’t even make their ends meet?

Money will be lavishly spent shopping this Dashain while the flood and drought victims are struggling to meet their most basic human needs.

What kind of society is this where a few rejoice at the cost of the majority of the population? Doesn’t it call for a bit of introspection this Dashain, then?