I am notorious for using these words occasionally in my conversations with friends and I know these are met with rolling eyes and contempt too sometimes. But every time I use these words, there is a deep, resounding quiet that resonates around- that not everyone has the power to think about things, not everyone is given the power to act on any/some/most of them, not everyone has the power to change what is beyond most others’ comprehension- to make a difference, to change the course of (a part of) the world. And those who have been endowed with such a power are burdened with a moral responsibility to ‘act’ in the greater interest of humanity. As Dante famously sums up in his Divine Comedy, “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain neutrality in times of moral crises…”
I was reminded recently that I fall in the category of this elite few; I didn’t believe it one bit then. I am still young, naïve and too small to make a difference- or at least that’s what I thought I was. Then the same person also reminded me that events that altered the course of history were brought about by people like me: young, small, isolated; though the universe happened to conspire in their favour. And most important of all, in a couple of months, a bunch of select few hundred people like me will be handed power in a significant measure. It was then the curve ball hit me. Hard.
I must confess that what I’ve been doing so far is not in the interest of the society or humanity- it was all entirely driven by personal gain as the prime motive and a large part of the gain I was planning on was monetary. Never- not but once- have I thought about how my education or excellence would be of any use to others, but that one time too, these thoughts were swept clear off my mind in a matter of minutes. I was going with the flow- classes, lectures, cases, assignments, discussions, sports, events, pastimes, trips, fun, friends, love, failing in many of these, grades, jobs et al. Now that I think about it, I was not alone in any of these- the whole set of the ‘few hundred elite’ around me was acting this same way, at least apparently.
Of course there’s the occasional professor who makes a fleeting mention of the true impact of this power we hold, but they are overly cautious not to corrupt us with this ‘power-talk’. There are subtle signs of what’s coming and how we will be mercilessly thrown into the flux where no books help and no teachers guide us through. But as always, subtlety is lost on us in most occasions.
Biotechnology, internet, climate change, renewable energy sources, sustainable technologies, population growth, political stability, public policy, and global business dynamics- these are very few of the true problems facing humanity at this point of time and space. I’m positively sure we are not trained to deal -our skillsets are hopelessly inadequate- with these and what scares me is that we are expected to understand, analyse, and have an opinion and a few feasible solutions ready- all by the time we go out into the world.
The least we could do now is to acknowledge the true demons that we face and grow beyond the pseudo-troubles that bother us currently. There’s still time to make a positive difference. We all face the same hells, just different devils…