Why the world appears to be confused? The problem with humanity is that we have Paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.
The Paleolithic (or Palæolithic) Era, is the name historians have given to the period between 2.6 million years ago, and approximately 12,000 years ago. Historians categorise the Paleolithic Era as prehistory because there was no written language to record events, names, dates, or places. Why have I made this statement, to begin with?
We expect that the world will improve with technology and will become a better place. A simple example of an automobile will tell you what I am trying to say! Just imagine a car moving forward or, in our case, an auto-rickshaw as it has three wheels. The front wheel is stuck in a pothole, the left wheel is running at 10 km speed, and the right wheel is running at 360 km speed. What do you expect to happen? The vehicle is going to tumble!
Such a combination of three wheels travelling at different speeds can create funny as well as dangerous situations. Let me go into the details. When I say that the front wheel is stuck in a pothole, its speed is zero. Its speed is zero but in what we are discussing, its velocity is negative. We are still in the thought processes which are as old as the stone age. Many rituals from olden days have continued, and I am mainly writing about India. When I was in school, in my grandmother’s home, we would see ladies of the house would “sit separately”! Now I realise that it was due to the thought process that a menstruating lady is impure. The thought process may have changed in modern homes, but many households still follow the old rituals. Today the ladies are pilots, the armed forces officers, prime ministers and CEO of large organisations. When the ladies are on the moon, metaphorically, what are we trying to do?
Our religious institutions and the compulsions that they force on people pull society back. Death is an event that is heart-wrenching, sad and a significant loss to the family, friends and sometimes to society. But we forget that it is a natural step in human life. The community follows old methods that need people to be away from work for 10 to 13 days after death in the family. Imagine persons away from work for such a prolonged duration. The loss of productivity is too high to continue with old methods. Years back, when my father expired, I was away from work for one day; the next day after that was weekly off. I joined my duties back on the third day! Everyone has the same love and respect for the departed soul. But 13 days were spent in olden days on rituals as there was nothing much to do anyway!
Even in modern times, we follow rituals and methods that were established over a period! The scientific knowledge of olden days was limited. Stars and Constellations were the guiding lights in the absence of knowledge. There was no way to check if these thoughts were scientifically correct. But in today’s times, is it right to continue following the same age-old techniques?
When humans were nomadic, the concept of a home did not exist. The idea came into being when we learned agriculture. Agriculture made us think of settling down. Over a period, different views on homes were established. Based on the knowledge of that time, humans established specific rules, which we justified as some deity’s blessings. In modern times, with so much scientific experience, we understand and can create “perfect” homes. But we still use the old methods which we call Vastushastra! I will go a bit into detail here. In the very beginning, there were few homes. We made designs to retain heat in cold regions and avoid trapping of heat in the hot regions. In the tropical areas, we had westerly facing homes to get a pleasant breeze. Now we have modern technology for design which makes the best use of available conditions. In an apartment complex, how can all condos be westerly facing? Southern facing homes are supposedly inauspicious. How can we avoid them in a condo? How can each house in an apartment be west-facing? With stone-age thinking, and medieval institutions of Vastu experts, can we take advantage of today’s modern technology, which is million years ahead of stone-age technology? We don’t do certain things because God will be angry. Such thoughts make our drive like a drive in the auto-rickshaw.
I don’t agree by any means with all the new things. There have been good things which an old thought process suggested. The non-nuclear family was a good idea, but the concept of “my space” has changed the thought process on its head. Newer technologies like free video and audio calls is a boon. It helps nuclear families to be in touch with each other.
Even in today’s time, we believe in supernatural things and ghosts. Nobody has been able to prove their existence. But we waste a lot of time correcting the ill effects of non-existent entities. One example is that of the banking system. Luckily, it has kept pace with technology. But we don’t want to change our thinking. There could be fraud, and somebody will steal my money, is what we are worried about. But these things happened even when modern technology was not used in banking. I know a friend who was a banker. He does not use advanced technology for banking.
In India, there is a large population of people who think in the olden ways. But the technology is changing with lightning speed. In between come the institutions. Some of the institutions may be able to change with the pace of technology change, but these changes are dependent on government and society. How to synchronise these three things?
Take the case EVM’s, electronic voting machines. Electronic voting has reduced the paperwork, waste of paper and waste of time in counting votes. A group of politicians wholeheartedly believes in this technology. But another group does not. Probably it is political. The second group does not challenge the process when the results are their favour. When the results are not in their favour, they start questioning the system again.
People world over are confused due to this behaviour. For personal and faith matters, they go strongly with old methods. On the tenth day after death, there is a ceremony on a suitable waterfront. At the end of the Puja, some cooked rice is kept in a bowl. There is a thinking that if all the wishes of the departed soul are fulfilled, a crow will come and eat rice. When this does not happen, people are sad and give promises to the departed soul of what they will do make the soul happy! People wait for hours sometimes. Come on! Crows have eaten enough rice on that day; they may not be hungry. Nowadays, a practical solution is found. There is a toy crow. The toy crow’s beak is dipped in the rice bowl; the departed soul is now happy! Everybody is happy! Oh, my god! I almost missed an important meeting.
Find the “crow solutions” on different issues, friends. Let us not remain confused! I don’t know if I should have published this blog. While coming home, a black cat crossed my path!