Several strange things happened in the world politics recently that might show us the way back into big scale preaching. The window might be opening again, after several decades being on the back burner.
When we were a novelty things were very good for us as a society, everyone was interested, books were flying out of our hands, temples were opened, we were growing bigger and stronger. Then we became old news, cataloged under a weird Indian cult, or even simply masquerading as an Indian cult, offering nothing of substance to the society.
History repeated itself in former USSR even though we are still growing strong there. Soon it will happen in India, too. We just tend to go out of fashion.
That’s not what Śrila Prabhupāda meant for us, for his movement. He really wanted to change the world, not serve nostalgic Hindu immigrants or become a cultural icon of days long past.
We have some very good ideas about what went wrong and how to move forward, we have a recipe for success, we have history, we survived through very tough times and we are not going away, but none of that guarantees our future. I would say that we aren’t looking forward enough, that we are still too involved with our past to matter to those who live around us, much less to the future generations.
Eventually we will grow out of this self-absorbed teenager like life and start doing something really useful, or we could self-destruct like many a teenager and disappear without a trace.
The world is full of rebels, especially young ones. They come, they shout, they make demands, they make promises, they see nothing but the bright future for themselves, then they fade away because the real world is nothing like the stuff of their dreams. It’s ugly, it’s messy, and people start to value completely different things once their teenage years are over. They grow up, become humble and patient, they become stronger, they make bigger sacrifices, and they make compromises they never thought were possible just a few years earlier.
We were like that once, too, and now we are coming out of age, all we need is to stick to our beliefs and seize new opportunities, and the opportunities might just be coming our way.
So, the events, the case studies – Russian annexation of Crimea, Thailand’s bloodless coup, EU and Syrian elections – that’s where I see the opportunities for us to assert ourselves once again.
Let’s start with Russia. They have been involved in two ugly Chechen wars, then a quick Georgian campaign, but this one really stands out. They took over prime real estate belonging to another country without firing a shot and nobody could do anything about it. Ukrainians themselves just sat there and watched in disbelief. Their Western partners made a lot of noise but didn’t offer any help but symbolic sanctions. Two months on and the matter seems to have been put to rest completely, no one is even talking about it anymore. How did Russians pull that off?
By sticking to their values, by being honest about their identity, and by offering people hope and protection. While the West didn’t accept Crimean referendum, fact is that 80% of the population supported the Russian idea, they saw that Putin meant what he said and backed up his words with deeds, he wasn’t duplicitous, he didn’t want anything for himself, he was upfront, he clearly identified common enemy and he wasn’t perceived as an enemy himself.
By values and identity I mean their shared history, especially WWII one, the heroes, the stuff of schoolbooks, the aspirations, standards of honesty and justice. Mainland Ukraine, meanwhile, went into anti-Russian overdrive since its independence, new history was quickly made up, new heroes put on pedestals, and some of those were unacceptable to those who grew up in USSR.
Given the choice between shifting allegiances and pseudo-democratic rhetoric coming from Kiev and solid, stay on course, Russian narrative, it wasn’t really a competition. I say “pseudo-democratic” because Kiev has got nothing to show for twenty years of its democratic rule, they only learned to hate their Russian speaking citizens and their Soviet past, going totally against their “equal rights” ideology.
Next, Thailand’s bloodless coup. Before it happened everyone was saying that this time people (red shirts) will come out with arms and will fight the generals for democracy. All the news reports were warning of an imminent civil war, counting the guns and interviewing various militant leaders of pro-government red shirts. Then nothing happened. Instead one red shirt leader after another publicly pledges to work with the junta for the betterment of the whole country. One even offered to write songs about unification.
Why? How’s that possible? Because the generals are not seen as an enemy, they do not dictate, they beg people for support, and they tackle problems everyone got tired of long time ago. After a decade of street protest of one color after another, finally some adults have taken charge and so far people trust them.
Surely, there’s an opposition movement, but I can’t find any substance behind their “no coup” protests, they’ve got nothing to offer but the return of the stalemate of a month ago when the country was paralyzed without a working government or parliament.
Democracy didn’t deliver good governance there while generals at least look sincere in their efforts. Turns out people want to be governed for their benefit, not propagandized by serial liars in the name of democracy.
Next, EU elections. Last month all EU countries voted for their supranational EU parliament. It doesn’t mean much yet in terms of real power but the outcome was interesting – almost every country that matters saw a huge rise and, in some cases, outright wins for right-wing, nationalist parties. Part of it is that EU elections don’t really matter and so only energized radicals showed up at the polls and come national elections these “winners” will be swept away again, as it happened in France several years ago, but my point is the clear sign of rising popularity of the “right wing” agenda.
Hmm, actually it’s a big topic that won’t fit in today’s post so I’ll leave it for the next time and try to explain why any of that matters to us.
We should be the ones offering solid, immutable values, we are the ones who should be seen as selfless servants of the society, we are the ones who should be seen as sincere and honest, we are the ones who should be free of hypocrisy and duplicity, we are the ones people should turn to when they can’t trust anyone else.
Five-ten years ago no one was really interested in such a proposition, people were still in the grasp of “democratic” ideals, they thought Obama would bring them change and repair the damage done by his predecessor. Now they don’t buy that anymore and they seek their change elsewhere – in Putin, in UKIP, in Thai generals.
It’s a chance for us to remind them that there’s a philosophy they are all looking for, there’s an ideology they all can trust. They are ripe for the taking, they are tired of being lied to, they will welcome us with both arms if we’d only bother ourselves to get out there and reach to the people. They’ve opened their hearts and we can, we must come out and give them Kṛṣṇa.
The dog days are over, illusion lifted its veil for a second and it’s time for Kṛṣṇa consciousness to shine through again.