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Adventures in Aipotu
By Sanat Mohanty
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Adventures in Aipotu: Episode 4, Part 2

After a while, God continued, "Even if the religious wars that had not sprouted all over, I would have perhaps decide not to go and intervene. Sometimes, when I am disappointed I think humans have too much intelligence and too little wisdom for their own good. The human civilization will not grow mature if I intervene every time there is a problem. In fact, I have begun to realize that any intervention only affects the maturity of the human civilization. I go down there, intervene, things are good for a short while and then everything falls back to how they were. The only way the human civilization will do well - or even survive - is by a collective increase in wisdom. The existence of one or two supermen will not help. There have been circumstances in your history where one or two supermen have attempted to lead the civilization to a wiser state of life. Mahatma Gandhi was one such man and Martin Luther King was another. Yet civilizations have reverted to mayhem."

"I sometimes wonder whether this human civilization stands upside down, on its head. It bothers me that humans have not been able to solve the two most basic questions of living together, namely, to share their things or to distribute their resources appropriately and to resolve their arguments or conflicts without killing each other. It is indeed even more ironic since these are the two things parents teach their children before they teach them anything else. Before you know math and science, you are taught to share your toys with your siblings and not to fight. Yet…", God trailed off.

After a pause, he continued, "The only chance that human civilization has is in every human coming to understand that there is a different kind of life possible on earth. And that realization must come from within the civilization. My coming and preaching will not help, neither will the preaching of couple of individuals who are wiser - though the latter can sow some ideas in their heads."

"Tell me", he asked Damini, "if I could give you any tool or instrument you wanted, what would you ask for to save the human civilization from killing itself?"

Very confidently Damini replied, "I would ask for a weapon that would find every evil human being and destroy them".

God looked disappointed. "I had expected better from you Damini. Don't you remember your trip to the arena where painters were painting the elephant? Didn't each of them have a different truth, a different understanding of the elephant? In a similar manner, can you always say with certainty whether you are not just seeing things from your point of view? And even if you were able to find all the evil people and kill them, could you ensure that there were not going to be more people with ideas that you hold to be evil? Will you keep killing them? And after you die, will someone else keep killing them? Is that not the reason for the misery and wars?"

Damini realized that she had been too hasty. Indeed, God was right. Killing people was not the answer. All sorts of other questions came to mind. How does one judge evil objectively, knowing that one's judgment is biased by ones own experiences? Is there an absolute evil? And does killing people get rid of evil? These were very profound questions, too heavy for a ten year old. So she focused on trying to answer God's question. Finally she said, 'I would wish that you came and taught us how to live peacefully'.

"Aah", said God. "But there are problems. If I went down and told a group of people that I was God, most would not believe me. Even if I did some miracles, half would not. And then those who believed me would see how right I was and would want everyone else to live that way. Those who did not believe me would want the others to shut up. As a result I would have begun a war. The same would be true if I inspired one human on Earth to teach such wisdom to the others. So that does not help either. Is there any other idea you have."

Then Damini thought hard. She wanted to impress God with her ability to think. But she also wanted to help find a solution on Earth. For a long time she stared at the distant horizon. The tusker swayed along. They passed some of the most beautiful stretches - high waterfalls, picturesque valleys and mist covered lakes - and yet she remained oblivious to all these sites. Finally, she said thoughtfully, "If everyone had access to knowledge, to information that are used to make decisions by certain groups, had access to the decisions, that would potentially solve Earth's problems".

"You are right", God replied. "Knowledge and information is the basis of immense power on earth. Groups have often used the ability to control information as a means of exploitation. But, today, on earth you have the tools - the logistics - to ensure that everyone can have access to all the information that they want. Technology has helped develop radio, television, and the Internet. Add the print media and you can have information flowing around the world seamlessly. And yet, the problem has been political rather than an absence of technology for the free flow of information. It is indeed unfortunate that only a few people control the information sent around by these media. Thus, it has become a means for propaganda of a few people's point of view rather than spread of information and healthy discussion. The basis of a political solution rests on the maturity of the civilization."

"I begin to see what you are saying", Damini replied. "Then this problem is similar to food. Mother says that there is enough food on Earth to feed everyone but people die of hunger because the will to distribute the food equally, instead of taking advantage of the scarcity, is not there." Damini thought some more. "The only way that the human race can save itself would be by a process of self realization", she said hesitantly. "It will have to become mature to an extent where it can live peacefully and without exploiting or oppressing others", she added haltingly.

"You are right on the mark", God replied. "That is the only way. It will require time and since the human civilization is consuming all its resources so quickly, I am not sure whether there is so much time."

Damini looked very sad. She could not imagine how an entire civilization would find the wisdom. She asked quietly, "Is there really nothing you can do?".

God smiled at her and replied, "I am sorry, dear", he said. "But, that is the only way. And the human civilization does have the wherewithal to achieve this collective wisdom."

The man sensed her disappointment and tried to change the topic of discussion, "You are a clever girl, Damini. I am sure you will explore Aipotu well and find many new and interesting things. But while you are here, let us go and meet some interesting folks." Damini nodded happily. She was only too happy to spend some more time with him and was sure she would meet some interesting people.

God continued, "I will take you on a journey that will be an important lesson to you." With that, God leaned closer to the tusker's right ear and said something in a language that Damini did not understand. The elephant immediately turned left and began moving at a quicker pace. The parrots sitting on God's shoulders flapped their wings and flew away as if they knew that God was now on a mission. Damini held on tightly to God's cloak. The tusker was now moving rather fast. God whispered reassuringly into Damini's ears, "We are now near our destination and so we must postpone this discussion to a later time. I want you to listen and watch everything that happens. Do not speak unless I specifically ask you to. You will have an opportunity to ask me questions later."

In a distance Damini could see a small settlement and far beyond loomed a large fortress. The skies had darkened and the fortress presented an ominous presence. In spite of herself, the site of the fortress caused a chill to run down her spine. God felt her shudder and placed his hand on her shoulder. He quietly patted the tusker's head and trumpeting loudly it charged towards the village.
 

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By Sanat Mohanty
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