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War, Games and Spirituality

October 14, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

War and games have been part of life since time immemorial. They are both tendencies that have impacted human life and society, sometimes favorably and sometimes adversely. The Mahabharata war began with a game but what came out of it was wisdom of Gita. World has seen lessons after World War II, when tolerance, pluralism and secularism gained prominence. But when war became a game, we have failed to learn a lesson. For the mighty and powerful, war is just a game, as has happened in Vietnam and Iraq. Pakistan and India have fought many wars and the same is true of the Middle East. In spite of so many ethnic conflicts in central Africa, Congo, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and now Sudan, no lesson has been learnt. There is a thin line between game and war. While the East has chosen the concept of seeing life as a game, in the Middle East, it is jehad. One thing that seems to be common between war and game is that, in both, you need to be insensitive towards the other. If you are sensitive towards others’ feelings, you can’t defeat the other. That is why the concept of Life is a game in-sensitizes you to the pains and the pleasures of life. Today, when children play video games, Internet, watch violent cartoons, they get in-sensitized. These games have turned into real life situations, leading to classroom violence. The last decade has seen unprecedented instances of violence in schools. Dropout rates in schools in Washington DC are an alarming 50 per cent and there is an increase in gang violence amongst the adolescents the world over. The intellectuals of today have to devise ways to bring back sensitivity and sensibility in the younger generation, without which there will be neither safety nor security on this planet. Fear of dominance of one community over the other, one nation over the other, have caused nations and communities to amass weapons. Amassing wealth and weapons has become a game. On many occasions, caste conflicts and cash conflicts are all subsidiaries of the arms race. Many think that spirituality makes men realize the ultimate. Spirituality is definitely an antidote to war. It helps to prevent the game from turning into a war and war turning into a game. Spirituality, people often think, is just a practice; it is an attitude as well. A practice is always bound by time but an attitude gets woven into that time. As practice, it is limited to occasions, to time and has time-bound effects. It is easy to adopt spirituality as a practice but takes courage, maturity and understanding to build it as an attitude. It is attitude and intention that matters more than action. The Americans apologized for mistaken notion when they bombed civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq. When the Israelis pounded Lebanon or when Sri Lankan forces bombed Tamil Tigers’ schools and hospitals, all they said was sorry, it was not our intention; it was a mistaken identity. Here, war has become a game. Today, many around the globe say spirituality is the answer. Will humaneness in spirituality put an end to war? Will it make you submissive and docile? Will it take away the joy and fun in aggression? Will it make you an escapist? This stream of questions smolders with no answers to put them off. In fact, it should not be. An answer can only be used once, but the path created by these vital questions can be trodden many times to an open-ended human evolution.

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