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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

The dead, the living and the unborn

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on July 26, 2014

wheel of life

Several demands for changes in our governing policies are quashed under the pretext that they contradict the laws laid down by our founding fathers. And when logic makes support for archaic constitutional laws untenable, our lawmakers rant about the ill effects of radical changes on future generations. Examples can be found all over the world; the heated argument over raising the debt ceiling in the US, the quandary that European governments find themselves in with regards to spending, the endless debates over the caste reservations in India…the list goes on.

Such instances bring to mind whether a relationship must exist between the dead, the living and the unborn. While most eastern religions would certainly attest to such an existence, the universal occurrence of above arguments leads me to believe that culture and religion have no bearing on the thinking of our policymakers.

Thomas Paine, in his work “Rights of Man” puts forth his thought regarding this relationship and whether it must be acknowledged while formulating ways in which we are governed.

Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of tyrannies. Man has no property in man; neither has any generation a property in the generations which are to follow….every generation is, and must be, competent to all the purposes which its occasions require. It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated.

…Those that have quit the world, and those who have not yet arrived at it, are as remote from each other as the utmost stretch of mortal imagination can conceive. What possible obligation, then, can exist between them; what rule or principle can be laid down that of two non-entities, the one out of existence and the other not in, and who never can meet in this world, the one should control the other to the end of time?

I wish more governments solved today’s problems with solutions that are born out of present day thinking. This means embracing change in one’s opinion and school of thought as a triumph and not a shame. I was particularly impressed by what Iran’s foreign minister and chief US negotiator, Javad Zarif, said on Amanpour last night:

“So we’ve got to think about a different paradigm. I think a paradigm shift is necessary in the U.S. Congress, in the United States, so that they would look at the situation in the world differently, so that we can change this world. This world in the old paradigm doesn’t work anymore.”

His words apply to so many governments. Lawmakers and their inertia are depriving millions across the world of their right to enjoy this beautiful gift that is life. Let’s not lay the blame on Karma.

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One Response to “The dead, the living and the unborn”

  1. Anshuman said

    State institutions are largely responsible for reform-pushing. Yet, change is anathema to these very offices, having been relegated in favour of largely superficial, though tangible matters. Emphasis is on power and any change that may accrue is incidental, rather than a priority.
    In keeping with your apt observation, maybe the emphasis should be on change in spite of these institutions.

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