There was a story that I heard a few years back about one’s perception of good and evil. It was something like this-
Duryodhan and Yudhishtra were sent on a trip around the world and asked to identify one good and one evil person each. Yudhishtra returned saying that he could not find a single evil person and Duryodhan said the same about finding a good person. The truth of course lies between the two extremes like the glass being either half full or half empty. The world is perceived and seen as one wishes to see it. I have always wondered about the definition of good and evil. Aren’t these two relative terms? Circumstances make one good or evil or at least so they say. But then how is it that, of children raised in the same environment, one turns out to be good and another evil? Then there are those who deliberately cover up their good side lest they appear weak! And there are those who successfully cover up the evil side of their nature and are rarely exposed if at all. How then is it that the same person is good for one and bad for another?
There was a phrase that caught my attention – ‘majburi mey mahatma ban-na’ which means ‘to become a saint under compulsion’ or ‘when you have no option’. It is easy for a person who has no access to underhand dealings to claim that he would never accept bribes. Who’s offering him a bribe in any case? If you are offered a bribe and still refuse it you have a cause to walk with your head held high.
Suicide bombers of the present times make hijackers of the eighties look like saints. I was among those who criticized our government for giving in to the hijackers in the Khandhar case. Today I feel grateful that those hijackers. They at least gave our leaders a chance to negotiate instead of blowing up the plane in mid-air.
After the Mumbai train blast on 7/11 I rang up a friend to ask if her son working in Mumbai was doing fine. Her reply made me think of the mess we’re in-
"You ask about Ravi today. Perhaps I’ll ask about Rahul tomorrow. Bombay or New York, New Delhi or Washington, air travel or bus travel or a walk down the street, no one is safe.”
The perpetrators of this terrorist culture, safely stay behind the scenes. It is the youth, who implements their plans, that gives up his life to promote their cause. I saw a TV program ‘The mind of a suicide bomber’ in which the circumstances leading to a person becoming a suicide bomber were discussed. A few suicide bombers who failed in their attempt were interviewed. It was a painful experience to watch youth energy being thus wasted and destroyed. These young boys in their twenties, had a childhood just like ours. What then made them turn into ‘weapons of mass destruction’ if I may take the liberty of using the term? I thought of what may be going on in their mother’s mind, of the sleepless nights that she might be spending. Like me, she may also be praying for her son’s safety.
I may just go on and on without an end. But that is not going to serve any purpose. We should all put our heads together and see if anything can be done about it. A man is called good if he is able to exercise control over the evil side of his nature and is labeled evil when he does not do it. There is always a conflict going on in our mind between the good and evil aspects of our nature. This is what we call the ‘call of the conscience’. Even a self-proclaimed unbeliever is bound to surrender to the voice within him. Is it possible to reach out and touch that vital cord to awaken the goodness that is asleep in him?
I dream of a world where universal brotherhood prevails and men and women live in peace. It has happened before and will happen again. All scriptures depict the triumph of good over evil and history is famous for repeating itself. I only want it to happen soon, much before it becomes too late.
But until then I have only hope to fall back on – a hope that such people will have some sense and a hope that a major war will be averted. I am grateful that I am at least free to hope for that's just about what remains in the end.