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Landmarks of Civilisation

Tuesday October 12 2004 08:08 IST

By Karmayogi

We do believe that man is becoming more and more civilised with the passage of time. The nomad settled down in one place. He began to grow his own food, learned to build a shelter for himself, acquired a language for communication, and made tools to make work easy.

In our view, these were landmarks of civilisation. They were comforts of life. This is how man ceased to be physical and showed signs of becoming mental. Moving from gross physicality to subtle mentality is to civilise oneself.

The 20th Century has witnessed the latest expressions of such symbols of civilisation. One of them is mankind is awakening to the fact that an invalid is really not an invalid but one who faces a greater challenge from the physical social environment.

All over the world governments have recognised the necessity of supporting their existence. They are given preference in the field of employment. Laws have come to compel public utilities such as airports to design their buildings so that a wheelchair can always be accommodated at entrances. The progressive nature of a nation can be measured by its attitude towards an invalid population. Presently it is done as a concession to the invalids. A better step will be to recognise such accommodation as their natural right because there is a higher truth about them. The oppressed of all nations are slowly emerging into their own.

Though this too is done as a concession, there is a little more awareness now that it is their due. In recent decades, there has been a spate of apologies for sins of omission in the past centuries beginning with the ostracism of the Jews and ending in the dropping of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Negroes of the USA, the untouchables of India were socially oppressed. Invalids are oppressed by Nature or biologically handicapped.

Spiritually, one is born with no eyesight or a crippled arm because his soul has chosen that experience. When one part is not functioning, the other parts become more sensitive and efficient. Since the soul has chosen that experience, it is not right for us to despise or neglect such a person. The sannyasi who gives up life to seek a soul experience is not looked down upon, but is revered. In that sense, an invalid deserves our respect and recognition.

To offer that respect to those who are crippled is to follow a higher SPIRITUAL JUSTICE known in India as dharma, a word that defies translation into English. As Justice is a higher than legal right, dharma is superior to justice. Justice is human dharma, divine in human life. Human unity is the aim of the world. When the world seeks human unity in a higher sense, man will be called upon to live by this dharma.
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