Arts and Humanity – The Heart of life
“Humility brings us self confidence and self respect, and kindness helps us win over others through their love” (verse 827).
Dr. D. V. Gundappa, in “Manku-Thimmana Kagga”
(Translation by Drs. Rashi and Sampath, as “Dim-Tim’s Muses”)
What U.S.A. has undergone on 9-11, what India has been experiencing for the last half a century, and what this world is going through for over a century, are the effects of education without humanity and humility at its core. Education must be well rounded. It should make the person feel evolved, enlightened, and informed in many directions. Any education system that lacks this 360 degree vision will result in the generation that don’t have direction. The acts of terrorism, that shook the world on 9-11 is a result of a planned education to do exactly what they did, terrorise and kill fellow humans. The acts of barbarism in Jammu and Kashmere of India is the direct effect of well organized schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They are humans, with a goal to kill other humans. It is pathetic that they are trained to kill innocence. What is the meaning of humanity? Are we becoming “savages”? How true it is today, that “Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices” (Laurence J. Peter). It is unfortunate that we are witnesses to the changing face of Education. It was education that intrigued humans to think better. It is education that is making humans to think bitter. Why this twist? Where did we stumble? Probably the process of educating went wrong in desegregating intelligence and intellectual capacity. According to Jiddu Krishnamurti, “Intelligence comes into being when one acts in perfect harmony, both intellectually and emotionally. Now modern education is developing the intellect, offering more and more explanations of life… without the harmonious quality of affection…. The mind- the intellect- is satisfied with these innumerable explanations, but intelligence is not, for to understand there must be complete unity of mind and heart in action.…” (“Intellect Is not Intelligence” from ‘What Are You Doing With Your Life?’).
So, ‘Harmony’ is the key. Harmony of mind and heart, of brain and emotions. The two can mix with proper education, guidance by guru- a person who is well versed, knowledgeable, and respected. Guru is that person who can change a raw mind into a sponge, who can shape a muscle mass into a heart. Teaching is that process where this shaping happens. “Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater” said Gail Godwin. A well rounded education is that which makes a human feel complete. Complete in all aspects of life. Complete about life itself. Fulfillment and contentment is the goal of life and good education is the path.
On the contrary, there are teachers who train children to hate the world. That is what we saw in Afghanistan under Taliban government. Those young Muslim men who thought they were going to the heaven by hating the world, didn’t know the softness of heart. Those children in Israel and Palestine, who are ready to blast themselves with a ‘mass killing mission’ on mind have tuned their eyes not to see the blood as liquid of life. That is what is being taught in the Madrasas (Muslim religious schools) in Pakistan. Those terrorists, who were not aware of the worldly affairs, were made to think that it is their duty to set things right by wiping out members of another religion from the face of the earth. Hate has become primary part of their education. No forms of arts are taught in those Madrasas- the Muslim schools. No music. No love and respect for the world, the nature, the earth. Where the young minds are corrupted to take a biased stand, that society has a narrower path to move on. This is the root of Nazi government, the hatred towards other religion. They were ‘trained’ to destroy thousands of people, just because they were not of their own religion. In the early 20th century, then USSR had restrictions on Music composers, Artists, Writers, and such others. “Under Soviet rule,” wrote Ian Mac Donald, in his article ‘Music Under Soviet Rule’, “freedom of information was an alien concept. The Soviet state ordained truth through its total control of the Soviet media, a control which ran to revising this truth, often in quite contradictory ways, whenever the necessity arose.” Eric Roseberry, author of a short biography of composer Dimitri Shostakovich (1982), has recently voiced doubt about the post-Testimony conception of the finale of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony as expressive of a forced, and therefore hollow, rejoicing (source: ‘Music Under Soviet Rule’). Same situations were there in China and Nazi Germany. China, being a communist country focuses on materialistic achievements more than performing arts, though supports sports and gymnastic schooling. Drama, theater, music and religious development is taking a back seat. Cambodia is yet another example of such country where true culture is taking a lash in the name of freedom and of revolution. People are punished for practising humanity, for keeping faith in each other, for trusting in the basic goodness of human heart.
This doesn’t mean that the general education system is the one to be blamed, around the world. It depends on what kind of education is given, in what context, and how. Gandhi said, in his autobiography, “The ordinary meaning of education is a knowledge of letters. To teach boys reading, writing and arithmetic is called primary education.… Carried away by the flood of Western thought, we came to the conclusion, without weighing pros and cons, that we should give this kind of education to the people. This education has produced vacant minds and manufactured servants for the Government. The products of our universities have become nincompoops.” A vigorous training education, manufactures military for the government. That is where Nazi got its power from. That militory power is the strength of Gen. Navaz Sherief in Pakistan. That is the power that hides Osama Bin Laden from the world. A strong power with a weak mind. A power that has the capacity to wipe the sorld in one swipe, withoue even second thought. This is where their education system has failed, in making them humans. The true purpose of education is to create a proactive mind. A mind that is open to other aspects of any situation. Look at the world without any biases. Like Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”. That is what we generally call broad-mindedness. We don’t have to accept and embrace an idea to let others have it. Only a well educated mind can be open enough to do so. To live and let live. But, what we see today is the opposite. A generation with a very narrow thinking, very selfish aspirations, and very definite biases. This will only give us soreness and sorrow, which is not understood yet, but we are seeing samples of it.
We, humans, come to this world to live. As intelligent species of all the creatures, we want to ‘lead’ a life. There is life and there is good life too. The difference is delicate, and to be found only by the heart. Heart is the source of all the fine arts that make life an enjoyable journey. Education, on the other hand, is a business of the brain. Logical mind with a dedication, is what it takes to achieve high goals, to be powerful, and to succeed in the realistic world. As we discussed in class, in “definition of success”, essay written by Korda, success spells materialistic acquisitions. Climbing the ladder of social status and showing myself as the most efficient person by hook-or-crook have become the parameters of success. On that basis, those who have made fortune through lottery can also be successful; those who cheated the general public, the government and made their life are successful. The officials of Enron, Martha Stewart, are then, very successful people, because they made more than their fair share of money and have name and fame too. Sadly, we stand witness to such downfall of morality, because when brain doesn't know the heart, there is drainpipe waiting to suck the humanity in. We have seen those who took more than their share, and those who lost everything bitterly. We are watching the business giants create an image to the government, the inner reality being totally different. Fall of Enron and scandal by Martha Stewart, are only examples. The government is not able to do much. They get to keep what they ‘earned’. Lost are those who lost their faith in the system. When we see these unfortunate events, I remember this quote “I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly” by Michel de Montaigne (1553 - 1592). This is so true even today, though it was said over 400 years ago. Mere logical reasoning is the simple rule of good life.
I would like to conclude with some thoughts on well rounded education. “Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one” said Malcolm Forbes. An open mind has a wider vision, broader perspective, deeper sense of society, and higher levels of responsibilities. Only such open mind with 360 degree vision can be a true leader. Only such mind will foresee, and plan accordingly. In short, only such mind can and will become a statesperson or a scientist. It takes lot more than materialistic knowledge to lead a country, and similarly to lead a great research. A well rounded education must tie up age old wisdom with new scientific knowledge. Mind will evolve by drawing strength from both platforms. I would like to quote Dr. D. V. G., a great poet, scholar, and philosopher of India, “Like new shoots of spring on the aged roots of an ancient tree, when old knowledge is mixed with new innovations, new science rooted in matured wisdom, there is evolution of mankind” (verse 522, Dr. D. V. Gundappa, in “Manku-Thimmana Kagga”). When we are able to blend these two platforms harmoniously, then we need not have to seek anymore for the meaning of life else where.
Culture is the root of all the fine arts that we talk about. It taught us to draw, to sing, to narrate stories, to nurture the curiosity when traditional education was not formed. Humanity has come a long way without traditional education. Now with only materialistic education in focus, we are going away from humanity. Materialistic life has engulfed us to such a level that most of us don’t have time for any artistic appreciation, let alone express ourselves artistically. We enjoy the life in fast lane so much that we want to watch movies that are fast. We want to travel only in fast lane. We want to have lunch and dinner in a shortest possible time, without focusing on the art of cooking. We need to look at daily living as an art. Cultures that had this vision have survived for thousands of years on this planet and now they are being sidelined as slow and irrelevant. Only when we are rooted firmly in the safe grounds of these cultural system with arts, faith, and feelings, then we as mankind can evolve. Only with the harmony of the heart and the head that we can emerge as the distinct and the intelligent creatures of the universe. Only with humane we remain as humans, otherwise, we do not make much distinction with a logical machine such as a robot with an addition of cruelty and selfishness.
“Manku-Thimmana Kagga” by Dr. D. V. Gundappa (Translation by Drs. Rashi and Sampath, as “Dim-Tim’s Muses”)
(“Intellect Is not Intelligence”, from the book ‘What Are You Doing With Your Life ?’)
Quotations : M.K.Gandhi, From his book “My Experiences with truth” in the website.
Most quotations are from- http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/
“Music under Soviet Rule” http://www.siue.edu/~aho/musov/contents.html
(An assignment for EWRT-1A in De Anza College, Cupertino, CA, USA; Dec 2002)