Sorry is the state of mankind who so self assuredly sleeps in peace till his bed rocks and brings him down with a thud. When calamity strikes, it spares neither the rich nor the poor. All wealth in face of adversity becomes useless even to a simian. After all, money is just a piece of paper having no intrinsic value.
It’s been almost a month since India woke up on 9th November 2016 after experiencing a jolt on her presumed security. The news of demonetisation touched the raw nerve of currency in many. Of course, change in its very form brings about sufferings and so did demonetisation. But probably in this case it could have been avoided if the preparation and new currency had been efficiently supplied. Then there wouldn’t have been big queues for small amounts to be withdrawn. Emotions soon began to surge and some called it the war on corruption which they felt was definitely needed; but alongside this rejoicing of hope, there were sounds of wailing and howling of many a rich who had in secrecy been corrupt.
Fighting corruption in India could be compared to some kind of a revolutionary action and though the Prime Minister said it would cause a little trouble to many, probability was that the troubles which one could see at the banks and the ATMs appeared not just teething problems but the discovery of a cavity. What however came as a sudden enlightenment was that the government could come upon the people like a wild cat any time and that hoarding was simply not just illegal but also unprofitable.
What then came to my mind was that how easily we humans forget that hoarding is certainly not the quality of an intelligent mind and how willingly we get awestruck by the fancies of the world and without any hesitation give up the use of our soul voice. The recent happenings then brought to my mind the poem ‘Suburbs’ by Pablo Neruda, where he speaks of how the middle class man in his greed to imitate the rich has landed himself in trouble. To keep more than what is needed, to be scared of the future and accumulate like the rich, are signs of hoarding and hoarding is today ‘the way of the world’.
The middle class man, who normally clings to his virtues, finds his honesty fading in the bigness of the rich man’s collections and therefore begins to copy the vices of the rich. He feels so ‘unfinished’ in front of the wealthy and yet knows that he is in all his courageousness ‘capable of everything impossible’. He almost becomes ‘a runner’ in the race of wealth. It is only his value system that controls his ‘hunger for climbing and getting as far as everybody else has gotten’. The way of the world is an ‘endless track of champions’ until they get ‘robbed of their laurels, their medals, their titles, their names’. So if the rich man loses his private jet, his palace and his five-star dinners, his poor imitator also loses the little he has accumulated to become big.
For the middle class man who is caught in the lure of the diamonds of the rich, the refrigerators and umbrellas near the garden become his goal. The question that follows is, are the refrigerators and umbrellas by the pool bad? Certainly not! But the desperation to get them is what ruins life. This desperation is a giant that eats up peaceful and joyful moments in life.
Soon, his home begins to expand with the greed of the world and becomes a house, which then expands with further greed of wanting gardens; and still, the longing continues when the gardens begin to long for swimming pools. It’s an escalating journey towards ‘Supreme luxury’ which itself can be debatable. The poor and the rich are then placed on either side of a mirror through which they see each other and keep deciding ‘the real truth in this world’.
Greed gives birth to runners who get obsessed to gain more and get ‘as far as everybody else has gotten because it seems that is the way of the world’.
However amidst all the discordant sounds of paper and coins, I hear a questioning whisper and sit to wonder. Could it be that when man began to worship wealth as god that the God in heaven did as He had warned?
“They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be like refuse; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord; they will not satisfy their souls, nor fill their stomachs, because it became their stumbling block or iniquity.” Ezekiel 7:1