In light of the recent crimes that have rocked the Indian consciousness, Nisha JamVwal shares Israel’s President Shimon Peres’ inspiring philosophy on humanity
Time for introspection
Today all other issues seem insignificant in comparison to what we seem to be facing in our country. A terrible moment of reflection and pain at the cost of an innocent life. A young medical student tried to go home in a public bus and faced one of the most violent gang rapes known in recent times, a journey back home became a journey to a traumatic painful death. One that the entire country is reacting strongly against. One that we feel deep revulsion and anger against. What is it that can revolutionise our future so that society progresses in a positive way? At a cocktail with Shimon Peres, Nobel laureate President of Israel, I was riveted by enlightening thoughts on culture, values and love that seem so apt for our times.
Shimon Peres’ beautiful mind
Meeting Peres has been one of the more revitalizing moments of my life. I was prepared for a chat about politics, technology and where the world is headed, and yes, all that did get discussed. What was invigorating was how he linked everything to humanity so brilliantly, and the secret of all success and creation to love, compassion and decoding the human brain.
Progress, according to Peres, is not about introducing computers and computer-literate people to be high-tech. He spoke eloquently about changing and sensitising society, to enable women to work, to focused-ly educate the youth of our country. “Whoever discriminates against women discriminates half a nation and if women don’t have proper education their children will not be well educated” warned Peres, echoing my intrinsic belief that we need to create the foundation of values at schools. “If children will not be educated there can be no progress. You have to invest in the youth more than ever before because the youth is going to face tremendous challenges and competition in the future and take the country to great progress. The past is too poor to answer the calls of the future. Past is passed away, let us concentrate on a future without prejudices” is the realistic approach to the future of the world presented by one of those people, whom you hear, and feel inspired toward further metamorphosis and growth within you.
State of the nation
Rape, corruption, political unrest, scams. We live in the midst of violent, dishonest, turbulent times where we don’t believe in the capability of our leaders and find society has given too little thought to safety, civil behaviour and looking out for the common man. The recent shocking rape and murder has churned the souls of our people. Seeds of this grotesque and terrible behaviour must also lie in the upbringing stages at homes and schools. I feel strongly about this acquisitive world where value systems are sacrificed at the altar of materialism and we need to instil a sensitising approach to women and children, rather than uncivilized animal-like behaviour at grass root levels.
Ironically, Peres felt we are a nation of love and tolerance. “China is cruising forward at a breakneck speed. But I feel India has an edge as it teaches us a lesson in co-existence – in a collection of differences – in language, in sects that coexist facing great suffering. You keep full freedom of your people without any attempt to impose equality. Such a diverse people live in your large country, with a heritage of culture, values and love. India can teach many countries of the world how to deal with delicate problems without compromising freedom. You may have many problems but you do not impose force but work with freedom,” he said endearingly.
“In a world where the air, water, land, all is insufficient, it is technology and science that can solve problems,” and with this in mind, Peres reaches out to the youth of the world, urging them not to follow the path to banks and stock exchanges but to laboratories and learn and solve the problems of and for the future.
Love is all we need
The message of compassion and love which is so needed in our times is the one aspect that came through to me in his inspiring talk on nanotechnology, world politics and the human brain – aspects that can bring change, success and rapid technological advancement.
I recall Peres’ inspiring words at that cocktail on passion intertwined with modernism and technology. “In Israel, our land lacking in natural resources, we learned to appreciate our greatest national advantage: our minds. Through creativity, love and innovation, we transformed barren deserts into flourishing fields and pioneered new frontiers in science and technology,” he shared, and that brought to me strongly how fast we could move ahead if India practiced tolerance and instilled values of mutual respect, tolerance and compassion at a young age in schools.
Peres fell in love too, and in a candid moment shared, “Early in the morning [of my life], I fell in love with the girl who went on to become my wife. At that time, we were so naive. I wanted to charm her, so I read her Das Capitol by Marx.” He twinkled charmingly, “Many of us were educated on the literature of India – when we fell in love we read Rabindranath Tagore, and when we matured understanding Gandhi, who in our eyes was a prophet. He had said he couldn’t save the poor farmers from poverty but he could offer them spiritual wealth. If today’s minister wants to be a leader he must have an intrinsic love of the people like Gandhi did. People say to a leader – you have to love us, not us love you. People expect from leaders not to be on the top, but to be ahead.” Yes indeed. Our leaders need to lead and govern not rule and terrorise.
The youth are the future
It is his vision on the youth as the new future, the game changer that resonates with my views on the country blazing a success trail worldwide. And I quote Peres verbatim, “I read a fascinating book that says a baby is born totally altruistic. A baby doesn’t have an ounce of ego. What then develops ego is his existential need [to survive]. Who are his enemies? The baby starts his fight with parents. The baby is born free, the parents love him but they want to control him. The minute he is born he has to fight for his freedom and existence and as he grows the fight becomes more and more complicated and then the baby develops its ego. Which means the baby can be a good man. If we would know what put us in love or hatred then we have decoded and know there is machinery for it. We already know that if we tackle the youth properly we can overcome some of the most dangerous maladies of wars, fires, agony and hatred in the world.”
We’re all change-makers
“We need to better understand with the help of nanotechnology what makes us happy, angry, moderate, not aggressive. I believe the future is biological and I think the greatest achievement until now in science was done by the Lord in heaven because he produced our brain. Whether we know whether there is lord in heaven or not we have to have the Lord in our heart. Before we look at the skies let’s look inside ourselves. That is I believe what can change our future,” said Peres who so aptly pointed out that it is the human brain that created the computer. Not the other way around. So if we use that brain for the betterment of our fellow men than the destruction of the world and our fellow men, we shall have ourselves a better world, a better future and yes, however blonde it might sound, even ‘world peace’!
Read more of Nisha’s point of view at http://nishajamvwal.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter @nishjamvwal.