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- An encounter with Aliens (Dec 2009)
- Toward a non-killing world (23 Oct 2009)

An encounter with Aliens
Uchuujin no shukudai (homework given by aliens)

By: Komatsu Sakyou, tr. Shalu Lal

Yoshiko fainted on her way back from school.

She found herself in a very dark place. But something shined.

It shined like stars and she wondered "where am I?"

In the faint blue light she looked about herself. There were strange machines with tubes. There stood three aliens in their shiny blue suits. They had big eyes and were of the same height as Yoshiko.

One of them said "don't be afraid."

Another said "you are an Earthling aren't you."

"Yes and you will be aliens" said Yoshiko.

Three strange looking men were surprised. One of them told Yoshiko "you are a very clever girl."

"Do you love animals and plants?" asked one of the alien.

"Of course, I do love animals and plants and every bit of nature."

"This is not the information we have" said one of the aliens.

According to our information Earthlings are cruel. They are about to kill all the animals and plants.

"Do you truly believe that earth is a nice place" asked the third alien.

"It's a wonderful place, it's beautiful and magical as well. And Earth has enough resources for all are BASIC NEEDS" replied Yoshiko

"But aren't Earthlings about to destroy the earth with their nuclear activities" asked aliens pointedly.

Earthlings are always at war with one another. They cheat and kill others. If such people came to our planet, we would be in great trouble. We are peace loving and we can not stand war and hatred. So we will destroy Earth.

"Wait" cried Yoshiko.

"Please don't destroy Earth. We Earthlings actually are nice people. Right now we lost touch with each other and we no longer understand each other that's why they are at war." "But it's for certain that their heart can be changed and there will be a peace on Earth. When I grow up I will work towards world free from war." "Please do not destroy Earth."

"Since you give your word, we will wait some more." As soon as aliens said this the surroundings grew dark.

"She is coming around" said the doctor. Yoshiko was in hospital.

"That's great." Said her father with a sigh of relief as he walked towards Yoshiko.

"We were shocked. You fainted on the way back from school. You had fever and were delirious."

"I saved the world." Said Yoshiko with pride.

"But I made a promise to the aliens that when I grow up, I will ensure that there are no more wars, otherwise aliens will come and destroy the Earth.

"She is still delirious." Said the tear eyed mother.

"That's due to fever." "She will recover soon." Said the doctor.

Toward a non-killing world

By: Shalu Lal, 23 Oct. 2009

To create a harmonious, peaceful and non-killing world has been man's dream since the beginnings of civilisations. If we were merely to survey the civilisations and the religious traditions as they evolved in order to shape human life, we find that resources for the creation of a harmonious and non-killing world have been regularly articulated to guide human thought and behaviour. All religions are primarily efforts to propagate a vision of society where mankind lives in harmony with fellow human beings and the Divine.

And, yet it is a sad fact of history that the civilizational messages and religious teachings favouring peace and social harmony have often been violated. Consequently, from fairly early times we have had war, conflict and clash between populations based on one kind of a marker or another. We are beleaguered today with the rising tide of terrorism, whether inspired by religion, regional affiliation or lower level cultural and social identities. However, we should not loose sight that at other times similar violence has marked human history on any number of counts; religion, nationalism and culture. One has only to recall the great religious wars of medieval Europe as well as the conflicts over race, religion and cultural domination that occurred in other parts of the world.

The critical question for us to explore is why, despite the thrust of all human civilizations and religious traditions towards harmony and peace or freedom from human conflict, we have had so much violence in history. The source of this conflict has been social; a desire to constitute political communities out of people who might be united together on the basis of religion, region, race or other identity markers. Whether we take the case of King Arthur or the Moors in Spain or the Taliban in our times, the process has been similar. Communities are first constituted and given an ideological cover and they are then mobilised to launch action against an imagined other. This process has been repeating itself all the time making it almost impossible for the dream of civilisations to become a stable reality.

According to UNESCO violence and destruction begins from the mind. It has therefore to be uprooted from the mind. For this to be a reality, we need to invent a strong enough ideology to counter the attraction of ideologies that mobilise for violence and conflict. We need to initiate efforts by beginning from the right starting point, re-engineering of the minds of individuals by taking them away from the culture of violence and bringing them close to the culture of peace. I believe that conflict and violence, whether in the form of religious wars, national conflicts or terrorism, will persist until the ideology which prompts groups to transform themselves into political communities and to indulge in violence in the name of the community is countered with another ideology based on peace.

Towards this end, I outline a few steps that would be necessary to build a culture and ideology of peace.

- First and foremost, we must harness resources for peace-building in all civilisations and religious traditions. This means that we must create an ideology that is inclusive rather than divisive and exclusionary. Merely running campaigns against violence or terrorism or giving a call for peace would not work. We must work towards a world which is non-exclusionary and integrative so that no group or part of the world feels left out of dominated. This is a tall order but with appropriate change in outlook and sensibilities this is not an impossible task.

- Second, we must ensure that a right sensibility and orientation is cultivated in the mind of younger people through right education. What is the right education has all along been a debatable question, but from the vantage point of the immediate goal before us a right education would include virtues that are likely to cultivate a culture of pluralism and toleration. Three such elements can easily be identified for this purpose: (1) acceptance of diversity of cultures, viewpoints and outlook (absence of which leads to zenophobia and ethnocentrisms of various kinds; (2) recognising the limits of community, whether based on nationalism, religion, regional identity or more secular markers of class; (3) empathy for the struggles for equality and social justice.

- Thirdly, propagation of the value that dialogue, whether at the level of civilisations or at the level of groups and individuals, rather than violence is capable of working towards resolution of contentious issues. Such a dialogue would encourage the awareness that the world does not exist in simple black and white. There are many shades of grey and positions can be distributed along a long continuum. The effort should be to bridge this distance.

The world is not changed by violent action. It can only change by promoting a change of heart. That indeed should be the starting point of any campaign for a non-killing and harmonious world.