A Sublime Inquiry

ARSHID MALIK

Why has the Western world progressed beyond the imagination of us, lesser mortals living here in this petrified land where the pace of life is so slow that it seems not to move ever? This is a question that haunts me all the time and no matter how hard I try to shake this query off, it just doesn’t let go of me. Well, after all it is a matter of wonder what the Western world has achieved in the past century and more. By all means, we are nowhere around that kind of progress and I figure it impossible for us to reach those standards in the times to come.

The Western world has witnessed catapulted growth in all spheres of life. I am not comparing here but deriving notions of progress and prosperity by superimposing the patterns – social, economic and political – of the Western world on our own and by our own I am not attempting to sublimit the regional capacity to Jammu and Kashmir only but am talking inclusive as a geographical prerogative of India and the adjoining countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular and our state in general. The Western world is an imposition while the rest of us are just there, lurking around in shadows of poverty and hatred. My vision of the Western world is more defined by the books – non-fiction mostly – which I have read, detailed accounts of the eventual rise of the Western world as a power, a dominant force in international politics and economics and I am convinced that this progress has come about gradually, even though it might look more like an “overnight” affair to us downtrodden masses of what I call the “Tragic Triad” of countries. We are caught between ourselves and we have been trying to show each other down all the time and I guess that has taken the most of us. But sincerely, it is not all about how posh and extravagant your look (particularly referring to the Western populations here) but more about how discreet and refined you happen to be. Yes, that is the main meal of this course. The Westerners are very refined even though they have undergone brutal terms and taints of history. The Western nations have come through very tough wars and have endured them. Whatever led to the metamorphosis of the once savage Western world into the some of the most refined populations the world would ever see is the point in question. What is so different about the Western world that we do not possess? What is it that made the Western nations progress in terms of elegance as a population or populations? What is that we do not have and they have?

When we talk about our country (pre-partition), it had a wonderful past with periods full of glory and grandeur. This part of the world seemingly is very old and has traditions and cultures dating back many centuries. The Western world, in some cases, is “believed to” have looted the treasures of this land to fill its lands with the booty in terms of wealth as well as knowledge. That point is marked in historical accounts and it points to the fact that this part of what was later called Asia was very rich with diverse cultures and marked contours of growth and prosperity. India in itself has a brilliant past and till date the Westerners seem to borrow or perhaps sometimes “steal” from what belongs here, even though nowadays the practise is more bent on the lines of sharing of cultural riches. Then what is it that made or still makes the Western world outshine the rest of the world. What is the source of their finesse? Whether you agree or not, the Western world is more aligned towards the extension of all kinds of life forms on this planet and I am not referring to any political motivations that the ruling elite might embody there but the population in general. The Westerners engender certain kind of a belief in life itself and a majority of them are engaged perpetually in studying, documenting and attempting to extend this circle of life on this planet, rather than the rest of us who undeniably attain some kind of pleasure in “exacerbating the decrepitude of all that is livingly natural”. Furthermore if we talk about the finesse in terms of clothing, modern architecture, technological achievements, haute cuisine, literature, music and fine arts, we are talking about achievements that may come about in our part of the world, somewhere where the planet ages enough to collapse into itself. I am not being sarcastic or cynical in any dimension but rather attempting – I need to press this point again – to find out the mysterious symmetries and asymmetries of the West that led to what it is today – an emblem of certitude in terms of progress and sow some such seeds here and witness such growth and prosperity in my own region, my homeland.

The Western world engaged in wars and so did we – as a nation prior to partition; the Western world had access to seas and oceans and so did we; the Western world had access to unobtainable treasures of wealth and knowledge and if historians are to be believed, we created much of this wealth; the Western world knew something that we did not is an implausible stance which can never walk off the ground. Then what was it that led to the growth spurt of the Western world and the absence of which instilled a deep inertia amongst us.

I may have got my notions wrong but the truth is out there for one and all to see. The Western world has achieved a quantum of all that is brilliant and this we can assume to be true and thereof discover that it is generally very true once we are done with our benign tribulations that amount to border on a deep seated “megalomania.” I believe one of the greatest truths that the Western world has lived by – and again I am not talking politics – is the comprehension of that fact that they are very small when compared to the whole universe and “all that surrounds it.”

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