Vanity thought #1243. On the future

Weekends are days when I’m so engrossed with mundane matters that I can’t honestly speak on things related to Kṛṣṇa, I probably shouldn’t even try. First reaction to this is instead write about something else and then find a way to somehow turn it towards Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Is it a cheap, insincere trick? Not really, I do try to see outside world form Kṛṣṇa conscious POV, I hope that whatever I do notice does come from something related to the Lord. Since I spent much of the past week discussing geopolitics, I couldn’t help but notice how geopolitics could help us understand the world around us and, especially, our future.

Generally, we shouldn’t worry too much about it. Things will happen on their own terms, we are just powerless observers and at best we could hope to be used as Kṛṣṇa’s tools. If that happens to be the case we should appreciate Kṛṣṇa’s energy working for His pleasure, otherwise she can do whatever she wants, it has nothing to do with us. There’s a nexus, however, between our spiritual duties and natural course of events. We want to be active ingredients, we want to leave our mark on the world, we want to shape events, we commit ourselves, we invest our energy, focus our consciousness. Do we create new karma in the process? Quite possibly.

Actions in Kṛṣṇa consciousness should not result in karmic reactions but that depends on purity of our intentions. If we want to control the world, we are bound to experience the results. Dhruva Mahārāja was successful in his search for the Lord but his initial intentions caused him to be stuck without Lord’s association for thousands of years. We can guess why the Lord imposed such conditions on him but in any case we should be careful with our material desires, the Lord might compel us to see them fulfilled instead of taking us back home.

So, we want to establish worldwide varṇāśrama. We are ready to commit ourselves, we take is as our mission, we tell ourselves that establishing varṇāśrama was half of Prabhupāda’s work and so we need to continue with it. Some are not so enthusiastic about it and we view them as not respecting Prabhupāda’s wishes and lacking faith in the words of our ācāryas. Whatever pure devotee wants, Kṛṣṇa will see it happen, we say. Our choice is to be a part of it or to stand by the side and miss all the mercy.

Okay, I might return to that, but let’s look at the world around us and see where it is going and whether we have a real chance to take over.

Recently I saw a panel of pundits discussing post Charlie Hebdo situation, they raised important questions and they were cautious enough with sweeping answers, which drew my attention. However, they obviously didn’t look at it form a “geopolitical” point of view. I’ve used that word so many times it already annoys me but I haven’t fount any better yet.

So, the Muslim problem. It practically doesn’t exist in the US but causes so much trouble in France. Why? Obama, in his recent meeting with British Prime Minister, rightly stirred the debate towards the question of nationalism. American Muslims, he said, are American. French Muslims, OTOH, are not French. This puzzled the panel a bit but the answer was so painfully near I would have phoned the studio if I was into that kind of political enthusiasm.

From European point of view, which gave us the rise of nation states, the US isn’t truly a nation. European national identity is a product of geography, culture, and history. The US is just over two hundred years old but even that history is restricted to the original WASP population. Blacks have become part of that history a hundred and fifty years ago, through the civil war, and immigrants were joining in as they arrived. Great Depression, WWII, civil rights movement – save for the very recent arrivals, there’s something that can unite everybody, but not around national identity, around abstract, ethnically agnostic values. Apart from freedoms, American Dream is open to everybody, and they call it a melting pot for a reason.

French history, OTOH, goes back thousands of years. The current core values were forged around the time of the US war for independence but, unlike the US, there was no equivalent of Martin Luther King to contribute anything significant in the very recent past. If you weren’t around at the end of the 18th century you missed everything that really matters. Muslim immigrants, comprising ten percent of the population now, weren’t there. They weren’t there for the world wars either. They have no history of any significance to share, they can’t become French in true sense of French national identity. Christians, who sacrificed so much during the revolution, made their uneasy peace with secular society, Muslims didn’t have time yet.

Or look at the UK – Muslims arrived there around the same time as they did in France, the are all post-colonial immigrants. They do not share in legends of the King Arthur, Magna Carta means nothing to them, and neither does eternal rivalry with Germany or suspicion of everything continental. British national identity is shaped by victories in wars that Muslims didn’t fight in. Even if they happily identify themselves as British Muslims, terms like “English Muslim” or “Scottish Muslims” are unthinkable. Good thing that the UK is a union, French are not so lucky.

Now take Germany – they national history also goes back at least a thousand years but recently their national identity has been influenced not by victories but by defeats. They were forced to redefine themselves around values brought to them by winners. Victorious nations like US and UK could say “whatever we do, is right, just, and moral” while Germans were forced to think “whatever we did was wrong, whatever we want to do, we should run it by Americans first”. When Muslims arrived in Germany during this period of soul searching they joined in almost immediately, it has become part of the shared history and part of their national identity as “German Muslims”.

I am not sure about numbers but what I heard on TV is that 60% of German Muslims consent to gay marriage vs 0% of Muslims in the UK. I hope these numbers are right and so perfectly illustrate power of history and geography over people’s thinking. If they are wrong, I’ve seen some others that might not be as striking but confirm the same point in a slightly different way – differences between Muslim opinions in Europe follow differences between white people opinions. They do not live in isolation, the world around them influences them perhaps more than their interpretations of Koran.

The same is true about us, too. We want varṇāśrama, right? Well, there would be no gay marriage and women’s rights there. Our proposals would be completely unacceptable to the modern society. What will happen then? Does anyone really think we’ll have it easier than Muslims? Does anyone think we will be allowed to build our own communities based around traditional “subjugation” of women? If we do manage to create some sort of a country or a real political entity with our cow based economy, it wouldn’t be allowed to survive. It wouldn’t be allowed to be born in the first place.

First thing that would happen is that atheists would start practicing their freedoms – half naked, bra-less women frolicking the streets, unrestricted, in your face criticism of the devotees and the scriptures, and lots of other things that would not allow vaiṣṇava culture to survive on any scale.

What would happed if we insist on enforcing our rules? War. Forcing us to accept their ways and forcing them to accept ours will quickly escalate into violent confrontation – just look at what happens to Muslims, it’s a perfect blueprint for trying to establish our own way of life.

Fact of the matter is, varṇāśrama is impossible in the current, west dominated world. Perhaps Muslims should slug it out first, let them and the atheists destroy each other, perhaps the world would emerge far more tolerant after that. Then we might have a real chance.

Luckily, our own numbers are so small that we can fly under the radar for a long time to come, and our numbers are probably big enough to sustain ourselves. It means that all my speculations about future do not change anything, except, perhaps, subdue our appetite for worldwide varṇāśrama revolution. Let’s start small first.

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