Sunday, 27 November 2016

Marking Territory

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam"

Planet Earth is considered to be a unique planet - It is the only known planet that harbours life. The Earth has been around for a long time, a few billion years (or a few thousand if you are a devout christian) and is filled with resources such as water, trees, fossil fuel, gemstones, wildlife and more.

Let's look at the planet Earth from the point of animals, say ants. Ants are remarkable insects that live in colonies and have divided their tasks among themselves - Some are workers, some are cleaners while some others are soldiers. They divide labour, just like humans; they communicate among themselves like humans; and they are territorial, just like humans. They decide what their territories are, and aggressively defend it. Any perceived threat will result in a swarm of ants working like a well oiled machine with their mandibles pulling at the enemy from various angles. I saw a video of an ant colony dismembering a scorpion.

Ants are not the only animal group that is territorial - Dogs, wolves, tigers and a host of other animals are territorial as well. I guess we can safely assume that being territorial is a deep rooted primal quality.

The planet Earth does not belong to anyone - So, everything on the planet belongs to everyone. And yet, the reality is not so. I cannot go and see the Great Barrier Reef or Mount Fuji without taking permission from some people. Does that seem fair? Do these places belong to some people? Why? Is it because they were born in that area? And if you look at Australia, it was a pristine country with a few Aborigines which was taken over by some Europeans quite recently. And now they don't let others come in. Is that fair?

We simply accept these things as they are. We were born in a country and we become citizens of that country. Many of us aggressively support that country, defend it and even die for it. Some of the disillusioned ones leave their country for others. We have seen this all.

We like some countries and we don't like some countries. A majority of Indians and Pakistanis don't like each other, Israel and Palestine, China and a bunch of countries fight for land and water. Many people who were born in that country are told as children that they have to be enemies with the other country because they own part of their territory or intend steal part of what belongs to them.

All this seems perfectly natural to us and we consider it as part of our geopolitical reality.

But do you see how similar religion is to this? People are born into it - and children are raised being taught certain things. They support it aggressively, defend it and some even die for it. And many atheists nuts are no different from religious nuts.

However, the question is - Is it really wrong? Why is it that we feel religious fundamentalism wrong but we find territorial “fundamentalism” natural? So unless we all truly believe that the whole world should be utopic where we believe in Upanishadic quote “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (The world is one family), blaming only religion for problems is silly

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