Questioner: What we are taught in conflict management is that when you are dealing with conflict, the best way is to take the other person’s perspective and then come to a resolution through a compromise. The current state of affairs doesn’t seem to encourage this though; in fact, there are economic incentives to keep the conflict going. So, how do we combat the system, especially in this time where everyone wants to accumulate money? You can’t even be in the camp of ‘ignorance is bliss’ or just fence-sitting. That’s the first thing.
Secondly, I am all about hypocrisy, in fact I believe almost every human is a hypocrite, but what I don’t understand is the entitlement which comes with hypocrisy. For example, how come a middle-class Indian switching on his air conditioner with coal-powered electricity is committing a great blasphemy against the environment, but EV cars, which are essentially made from materials which are obtained from the destruction of Amazon rainforest, are considered eco-friendly, and are also adding to the wealth of super rich?
Acharya Prashant: That’s just propaganda; that’s just lack of knowledge. Once you make it known that the very battery in an EV car is actually an environmental disaster—the kind of elements that are used in it and how rare they are, and how much soil must be unearthed to just get to that—and then the fact that countries like India have mostly coal-fired plants, so even if you have to charge that battery, then you are burning coal—you make that known, and then the moral superiority, the ethical value attached with an EV car goes down.
This one is a clear case of lack of propaganda. Propaganda is a great thing; you need to publicize the right information. And the corporations selling those cars won’t do that, obviously. So, you have to do that, and you have the power of social media on your side. Post as much as you can. Ask people to share. Let people know.
All conflict starts first of all within, does it not? Wars first start in the mind. We say that when a war is already raging within, then enemies necessarily appear from all sides externally. Wars are first of all internal, and then you look for enemies outside. So, knowing yourself is the way; inner education is the way. And if you don’t have inner education, if all you have is scientific education and technological advancement, then you are giving more and more sophisticated tools to people who are internally ignorant. The fellow does not know what he wants, but he has his finger on the nuke button. What would he do? Internally flustered, ignorant, hateful, unfulfilled, angry and jealous—and he is commanding nuclear forces, he can launch an ICBM (Intercontinental ballistic missile). What do you expect now?
Most of the nuclear powers are democracies, are they not? So, we have politicians sitting as the commanders of the armies, right? Now, on one hand, we keep blasting our politicians as very disgusting people; on the other hand, we have given them our nuclear stockpiles to command and fire. Don’t you see that’s a very odd, inflammable combo? The same politician that you accuse of being a rioter, an arsonist, a corrupt person, a vile man, sometimes even a murderer—the same politician then becomes the prime minister, the president or somebody, and this person is commanding four hundred nuclear warheads now. Don’t you see how precarious our position is?
The entire world loved to hate, let’s say, somebody like Trump, and you would even say that he is an imbecile, he is mentally unstable, emotionally he is a wreck; all those things were said about him, no? And what was he commanding? The world’s largest nuclear force capable of destroying the Earth at least twenty times over. That’s the might of the US nuclear arsenal—not one country, it can destroy the entire planet twenty times over.
And when you are that kind of a person inside, as we said, you will necessarily be able to locate, if not create, enemies on the outside. That’s the reason why powerful countries have to necessarily get into conflicts. If there is no war, then power starts feeling suffocated: “What do you do with all these sleek missiles? See how beautiful they look—they must be put to use!” So, then you search for wars.
Now, you are saying there is so much conflict in the world. That conflict is coming from the mind of the man. Which man am I talking of? Not just the decision-maker, but actually all those who put the decision-maker in the chair. And who are those people? You and me. Because there is darkness in our mind, so we put dark people in positions of power. Do you see that? You will do as you are, and that implies you will vote as you are, no? So, if the common man is steeped in ignorance, that’s the kind of leader he is going to select or elect, correct? And then they will fight. Is that surprising? Is that not obvious?
So, what is the solution? Mass awareness is the solution. It cannot be a top-down thing; it has to arise from the grassroots. You have to know what is valuable; you have to know that knowledge, realization, freedom are more important than anything else. And then there is a solution to conflict. Otherwise, you can keep having any number of conferences and summits; nothing comes out of it. In fact, we had a few particular conferences—the Second World War came out of that. You know, the Second World War was born out of a treaty actually, the Treaty of Versailles. So, you can actually get together and have a conference, and that conference results in a world war, and you will say it’s a peace conference, it’s a conference to keep the universe in one piece.
It has to begin with you; it has to begin with me. There is no other way. This might sound old-fashioned, not very exciting, but sorry, this is the only solution. And if this is not the solution, then calamity is the option. The ones who are my age or older than me in this room, we will probably escape with lesser damage because we anyway don’t have too many decades to live. But you people have what, five decades, six decades on an average—that’s how long you will live.
So, the onus is on you to not let the planet degrade beyond a point. You are inheriting it; you will be inhabiting it. The older ones who are ruining it would ruin it and be gone, and all the murk and the debris will be on your head, so it’s you who should stand up. The seventy- and eighty-year-olds are doing all kinds of nonsense, and they will happily die now; you will be left to bear the brunt. Don’t let them do what they are doing.
Social media, democracy, technology—they are in some sense great equalizers; even a common man today has a voice. Use that voice. Even the president of the world is just a Twitter account, and you too have that, no? Even the president cannot have two accounts! Leverage that. And if you don’t leverage that, then all kinds of disgusting forces are there to leverage that. You know the kind of stuff that goes viral on social media. So, all the disgusting creatures are very efficiently and very dedicatedly doing their jobs, and the ones who mean well to the planet are just conferring and conferring and thinking and hesitating. Where does that leave us?
Get up, fight, stand up for what you know is right. Make your life and this planet worth living.