Mankind: A tragicomedy 

  • The march of humanity continues amidst laughs and sobs 

Man, as understood by Protagoras, is the measure of all things. But alas, most of mankind measures everything- from deities to dust storms- as either allies they could rely on or hindrances they need to get rid of. The binaries of good and bad, right and wrong, friend and foe, light and darkness keep us afloat in a universe that is deaf to our prayers and indifferent to all that mankind does to each other.

We are not the center of the universe, dear readers. We are not even on the peripheries. Each one of us has an average life span spread over few decades, preceded and followed by endless and deafening silence.

Past was once present, present is desperate to turn into past while in our haste towards future, we trample it. On the treadmill of time, we fight the demons of our head and heart.

Our defeats haunt us. Our successes are fragile. The best made by the best of us- poets, philosophers and thinkers- at max echoes through centuries and then is heard no more. Names of entire civilizations made over centuries by millions of people- along with their joys and sorrows, festivals and fears, dreams they thrived on and dilemmas they tried to sort- now only interest few historians and academics.

Time giveth zenith. Time taketh it away.

Human life is a strange struggle. The monsters of yesteryears are victims of today, the successors of oppressed nobodies become the mouthpieces of liberty and deliverance. The meek and humble, once empowered, turn into brutal taskmasters. Wars, famine, want and poverty brings the best and the worst of qualities in us mortals entrapped in fragile bodies.

The mighty armies have been relegated to the fringes where they plan, execute and command their armies against motley gangs of insurgents, rebels and belligerents in godforsaken tracts of land.

Our civilization has become a place where even the basic facts about everything under the sun are disputed, stats are unreliable, twisted and the truth is exiled to a land from where no soul returns. Since, we humans are in habit of naming things to make sense of them; we call our time the ‘post-truth’ age.

Truth is dead, gone and buried. Let the one who can yell the loudest and have the charisma to turn people into blind followers be the leader of men. This leader is neither shackled to rules and laws nor answerable to checks and balances. He is free to do whatever pleases him, whatever appease his or her followers and whatever shocks and awes the populace at large.

Also, the human quest for control and utter supremacy over ‘other’ is no longer undertaken by medal-laden old generals trained in the craft of warfare. The mighty armies have been relegated to the fringes where they plan, execute and command their armies against motley gangs of insurgents, rebels and belligerents in godforsaken tracts of land. A man armed with a laptop, an internet connection and a sinister mindset can wreak more havoc than a militant armed to the teeth.

The truth about our nature is: No matter how much we love to think of ourselves as rational, logical beings, our motivations and preferences are always rooted in primal emotions of fear, hatred, and love. We rationalise our choices, we sublimate our urges, we channelize our animal instincts, and we repress our utmost desires and passions. We perennially crave for an outlet. The caveman found it on walls, the kings and feudal lords found it in waging wars and patronising the artists and poets, the industrialists found it in his mad pursuit of power, prestige and money. Now, the countless online podiums bestow upon us an outlet to vent out our frustrations and have catharsis. Many of us take part in them. Those who don’t are silent observers.

We are creatures who think of the world- and all there is in this world- in binaries. The dichotomy of truth vs. lies; right vs. wrong; good vs. evil; order vs. chaos; hereafter vs. here-and-now; us vs. them; upright vs. corrupt and real vs. phony is how we make sense of the world. We believe our own truths, fight for lies we want to be true, wrongs that better be right, good we adhere to, evil we wish away, order we want to maintain, chaos we aim to survive, hereafter that needs preparation, here-and-now we are condemned to, our folks to protect, other folks to destroy, upright to revere, corrupt to hang, real to believe in, and shams to avoid.

Shakespeare, the knower of our deep desires, in his play Measure for Measure sums up the tricks we play and tragedies we live through in the following lines.

But man, proud man,

Dress’d in a little brief authority,

Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d—

His glassy essence—like an angry ape

Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven

As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,

Would all themselves laugh mortal.