Saturday, September 17, 2005


At some stage in our lives, most of us stumble upon a piece of writing, a speech or a book that leaves behind an indelible imprint of our psyche. It can potentially alter our opinions on myriad issues, or in some cases the way we view the world around us.
One such agent of change that reaffirmed my faith in what we call- the Occidental Culture, is VS Naipaul's acclaimed lecture - Our Universal Civilization.

This Universal Civilization which he talks about has its roots in the West. It embodies the values and ideals that we imbibed in our public schools. No equivalent of this civilization exists or has ever existed in the East. There is no room in it for asinine concepts like pre-ordained destiny and divine revelations. It emphasises on perfectibility and the dignity of the individual. In short, it simply rocks!

What I especially liked was the way he sums it up in the end. There's nothing that one can lay a finger on:

The idea of the pursuit of happiness is at the heart of the attractiveness of the civilization to so many outside it or on its periphery. ... It is an elastic idea; it fits all men. It implies a certain kind of society, a certain kind of awakened spirit. I don't imagine my father's parents would have been able to understand the idea. So much is contained in it: the idea of the individual, responsibility, choice, the life of the intellect, the idea of vocation and perfectibility and achievement. It is an immense human idea. It cannot be reduced to a fixed system. It cannot generate fanaticism. But it is known to exist; and because of that, other more rigid systems in the end blow away.

Do read the full piece.
What's hard though is the effort required to sell such ideas to the masses.
The Mullahs and the sarsanghachalaks can't understand the sheer beauty of this civilization. All that they can do when confronted by it is to cry hoarse at the 'pernicious impact' of the so-called 'Western Influence'.
What we need is more and more of this 'Western Influence' and not less of it.

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