Monday, October 3, 2011

Do opinions matter in making history?

We are in a totally new era of human history and it is totally different from what we read in the works of famous historians like famous of all times, Herodotus who lived in 5th Century BC and known as the first true historian, Abn Khaldun who is thought as the father of Philosophy of history and Edward Gibbon who is thought to be the first modern historian by his three volumes of gigantic books under title of, “The history of the decline and fall of Roman Empire”. How our time is different from the rest of the human history, let’s have a quick look,
In the middle of 13th century the human population was estimated to be around 300 million that is less than 1/4th of current Chinese population, current Chinese Population is 1,339,724,852 (1.3 Billion) and yet we see a state of nonstop wars in that time,
The main series of Crusades occurred between 1095 and 1291, while the crusades were not over yet in Europe and Middle East that Mongols came down out of the Asian Plateau on the mission of the conquering world and waged a series of wars that continued for two centuries. Still Mongol conquests were going on when another famous war began in Europe known as The Hundred Years' War. (The series of wars waged from 1337 to 1453 for throne of France and England). Soon after recovering from The Hundred Years’ War, the European States started another series of wars beyond the Europe to colonize African, Asian, American and Australian continents that began in 1500 and continued until mid-twentieth century and lastly there were two world wars in early and middle of twentieth century.
If you look to these series of nonstop wars, each one of them were world wars of their own times and we see as the human population increase along those wars, the casualties are also increasing. In World War Second there were over 70 million loss of human lives that is 3 and half times of the total population of Saudi Arabia (Saudi citizen). It gives the true sense of saying, “Peace is an interval between two wars”.
Since the formation of United Nations and declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the world didn’t see a world war in last 60 years though the smaller wars have never ceased. Since the collapse of Soviet Union, the threat of world war become negligible, adding to that spread of World Wide Web has increased the level of awareness among people and people have started to focus more on their essential issues rather than going to wars. Does these new developments make us right to claim that we are living in a totally new era of history that is different from all known histories?
I think there are two basic evolutions in human affairs that make this claim stand to be true,
Firstly, the wars are waged based on opinions and devotions and not based on facts….
Secondly, the spread of democratic values and information technologies have evolved a general appeal of choosing, “Let’s make the world a better place to live” over “Let’s dominate/conquer the world”…..
The second point make some sense but the first point might seems counterintuitive so let me clarify it,
When it comes to facts, we look to Scientists, so the Behavioral Scientists might say that aggression is a trait that have evolved to increase the level of fitness by acquiring more territory, food, mating opportunities and also Psychologists may say that aggression is a built-in instinct of humankind yet we see people usually go to war not because they have an aggressive nature but because of devotion or deeply influenced by an opinion. It is the concepts of racial, cultural superiority or concepts of having right or wrong beliefs and ideologies that make people go to war with each other. And interesting point to note is that most of these concepts of superiority, inferiority and right and wrong are nothing more than opinions. Of course we can’t count them as facts.
A quick look to history of major religions and racial superiority concepts, we find that most of the claims weren’t more than claims,
The core concept of Christianity is “love for all” but the history has witnessed crusades and sectarian violence among Catholics and Protestants. Islam means peace and the killing of a single person is considered equal to the killing of all humanity and yet throughout Islamic history we see nonstop bloodshed of Muslims and non-Muslims that still continues and definitely will continue. Similarly any nation who claimed a racial or cultural superiority found itself against other nations and have caused wars, Second World War, Arab-Israel conflict, Conflicts in Afghanistan, Indo-Pakistan Conflicts, Chinese-Japanese Conflict are some to name.
If we truly analyze these conflicts, we find that they are based on Opinions rather than Facts. No geneticists or Behavioral Scientists will be able to say, Hey, here are the genes that show Germans are superior than Jews or Jews are superior than Arabs or Pakistanis are superior than Indians or Pashtoons are superior than Hazaras…. All these superiority claims are based on opinions…
On other hand, no Philosopher will be able to tell you, hey, here I found an epistemological basis that Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or any other religion is true or false. The basis of truth and false is based on the devotions of followers.
So, we find people go to wars either because of Opinion or because of their devotions and no one can ignore that opinions are key in creating devotions or increase and decrease the levels of devotions.
Now, we come back to our main question and that was, “Are we living in a very different time in history”,
The answer now should be clear that, yes we are. We live in a time that most of the governments are democratic and the public opinions are key in making their decisions. Besides, World Wide Web made it possible for masses to have an impact in participative democratic process by allowing people to share their opinions. It is amusing to note that even in the age of democracy and internet, devotions find their way to deceitfully misguide public opinions and go on war. The lies by some notable democratic countries on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and creating war are the most recent example. I am not discussing whether Iraq war was right or wrong but what I am saying that How Far Devotion can go that Public representatives can easily deceive their public and by noting this point How Much it is becoming important to consider the Opinions and share your part in “Making the world a better place to live” rather let it go for wars that result in killings of innocent people, stoppage of trade, deepening of hatred among nations and victory of terror and fear…..
Your Opinion is as important in shaping the future of world as the drops of rain that shape the surface of land and remember we have the imprints of some rain drops that are hundreds of millions old….

1 comment:

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