The harsh rain lashes out on every crevice of the ark. Noah stands with his arms raised to the heavens, pleading for mercy.
History textbooks, along with major religious edicts, show us that those who rise up on the wave of greatness must come crashing down upon the sharp rocks that surround the shore. Victory never lasts long.
According to the Genesis narrative, Noah was the pure specimen that God had first intended to despoil the Earth with, but all his fellow beings indulged in the riches of life far too deep to return to normalcy. Therefore, God sent The Flood for seven days, destroying everything except Noah’s ark that housed his family, and pairs of all animals on the planet.
The Flood has long been the symbol of revival of the lost. In the 18th century BC, the Mesopotamian civilization recorded the myth in an epic about Atra-Hasis. The same story of creation, un-creation, and re-creation, has been reflected in Islam, Christianity, and the Baha’i Faith.
As the wave rears back, lifting her claws, Noah stares at the foam gathering around it. Amidst the bloodthirsty sea lay blissful calm, waiting to be found.
By the matter of superiority of genes, Darwinian “survival of the fittest”, people have grown to accept the authority of others for centuries.
Forced labour, and decimation of dignity were commonplace in 14th century France. Thoughts that violated the Catholic Church’s dogma were labelled as heresy, and the owners were threatened with exile. Funnily enough, this oppression fashioned a revolution at the hint of cake. It is said that it is not possible to have your piece of cake, and eat it too (as Robespierre soon learned), but the French Revolution gave birth to ideals that still stand strong today – liberty, equality, and fraternity.
Freedom entered the modern world with democracy. Countries everywhere shook off the shackles of colonisation, and rose as independent entities.
There is a deafening roar as the wave crashes into the hurriedly-built raft. For a moment, everything blacks out.
Hindu scriptures state that the destruction, and creation of the universe is a cyclic event, and go on to divide the longitude of humanity per Mahayuga into four phases: Sata Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga, and Kali Yuga. If the calculations are precise, today, we stand in Kaliyuga, the age where greed, and power step over humanity, and blood is painted across the world.
We think that the world is moving towards greater empathy, and peace. But the last few years have witnessed the rise of extremism, and xenophobia amongst societies, unlike anything seen since the Second World War. The oldest modern democracy is on the brink of giving a misogynist with an unhealthy fascination of tall walls, access to its nuclear launch codes.
Democracy has devolved into populism, and as history has shown us time and again, the wisdom of the crowd cannot be trusted. Austria fell short of electing the first far right head of state in Europe since WW2 by a wide margin of 0.6% of the vote. The Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte’s rhetoric bears stark resemblance with the proclamations made by another fair-haired demagogue in the USA. A deep seated suspicion of outsiders has taken hold of societies across the world; almost a throwback to our hunter-gatherer days, as our primal instincts begin to supersede more human ones.
Militant organisations feed off such hatred as sections of society are increasingly marginalised. They may enjoy comfortable standards of living but the pain of being shunned by their communities, drives them to pick up arms in search of a supposed “higher cause”. Both sides of this divide feed on each other, engaging in a never ending cycle of hatred, violence, and betrayal. Every terrorist attack leads to greater panic in the larger society, further alienating those on the margins, and pushing them to join those very fringe groups.
With the internet, and social media even as our world is becoming more interconnected, it is also fostering a disconnect with the real crises. When we are bombarded with news of bombings the dire becomes mundane. We instead choose to award frivolities such as Kim Kardashian’s body our complete attention. It is the paradox of our times that the everyday trivialities gain more coverage than the issues that are shaping our world.
Even when we feel that the people of the world shall rise to wrest power from the über-corrupt plutocrats who rule us, history often shows us the way to disappointment. The Arab Spring, democratic uprisings in Middle East in 2011, turned into a frigid Winter as the new fragile regimes installed after the toppling of their “dictatorial” predecessors fell apart, giving way to military rule, or all out war. It resembled the Balkanisation of Europe, as the states folded upon themselves. Shaky, if not non-existent, government mechanisms ensured negligible development of the nations. Now the Middle East is embroiled in violence, and ruled by extremists. Democracy remains a distant dream.
The ark lurches precariously as the sky darkens. Water starts to flood the deck. Noah, and his sons try to empty buckets into the sea.
Terrorism coupled with bad governance has left a permanent mark on the globe. Refugees flood nations driven by hopelessness, bomb blasts rob people of their lives. With selective deafness, and self-induced blindness, people fail to see that the notes which bring screams into the air, have been composed by their own hands.
No matter how accomplished – brothers turning on brothers, children being massacred to paint dogma, people being denied their identity – when Humanity is turned away by her own children, the time is near for her demise.