The Western civilisation’s evolution has been imbalanced and its decimating mindset remains in full dominance even today
The behaviour of the Alabama police towards the hapless Sureshbhai Patel last week, where the defenceless Indian grandfather was tossed to the ground and brutally beaten up just because he was talking a leisurely stroll in the neighbourhood, is in fact the manifestation of a deep civilisational malaise that Western societies are increasingly facing.
On the one side, overweening material power and mastery and on the other societal imbalance and stagnation is increasingly making the constituents of these societies insecure, reactive and intrinsically suspicious of the world at large. The societal bonds and safeguards, that were in any case never too strong in Western societies, are increasingly under pressure and collapsing. Take for example, the fact that there is an increase in the number of suicides in the US — a society otherwise materially well provided and seen as the land of opportunities by millions. According to the American Association of Suicidology, there were 40,000 suicide deaths in the US in 2012 alone and the number keeps increasing.
The large incarcerated population in these countries, violence among teenage population, propensity to violence especially against those who belong to different communities and civilisations and to treat every ‘coloured’ citizen as potential ‘troublemakers’ are some of the most physical signs of a deep civilisational decay or regression.
Ironically some of those countries that speak out loudest on the need to ensure the prevalence and triumph of democratic norms are the ones who often appear to be most regressive and insecure in terms of treating their own minority population, or those whose racial composition is different from that of the majority community.
If one were to make a stark and brutal analysis of such a trend or mindset and to articulate a few civilisational truism, then one would have to admit that such a mindset or habit has in fact always been the norm whenever materially superior civilisations, especially those inspired by the ‘mission civilisatrice’ mindset and mode have taken over physically weaker, intellectually superior, artistically richer and spiritually finer civilisations. The past has indicators galore as to how the brute material force, devoid of a sublimating moral or spiritual centre, has trampled upon and decimated civilisations that were highly accomplished, refined and held a world-view that primarily revolved around accepting and thriving in diversities and rejecting hegemonistic tendencies of cultural domination, co-option and decimation.
When Hindu traders, sailors, philosophers and sthapaties (temple architects) travelled all over Southeast Asia and made contact with indigenous population groups in the region, it was a soft and harmonious blending that gave rise to a process of gradual osmosis leading to the creation of a ‘family likeness’.Pizarro and Cortes on the other hand went off on a ‘conquest’ of the Inca Empire — to satiate their lust for gold in the name of God. Not only was Emperor Atahualpa duped — so trusting were the Incas that they filled their assembly hall with gold in order to secure their revered Emperor’s release from the marauding Spaniards — he was killed and the gold looted. The penetrating civilisation, if that could be termed as such, desecrated a highly refined as well as materially and spiritually advanced civilisation.
In his classic, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (1992), American historian David Stannard, delves deep into the devastating effects that Western civilisations have always had when trying to civilise advanced civilisations or people who, though materially less developed, had nevertheless, evolved a deep and highly advanced superstructure of life and living. Stannard talks of the “deadly impact of the Old World on the New” and points out how “just twenty-one years after Columbus’s first landing in the Caribbean” the “vastly populous island” that the explorers had named ‘Hispaniola’” was desolate, “nearly 8,000,000 people — those Columbus chose to call Indians — had been killed by violence, disease, and despair”.
The evolution of Western civilisation has been an imbalanced one — its decimating mindset still dominates.