Changing Canvas – J. T. Jayasingh


God is the master artist and sky is His canvass. One silent night we can gaze the blinking Milky Way against the dark blue sky. But in the next evening the canvas is changed he has painted the eastern sky with yellow, white and crimson against the light of the sun. The scenery is changing: cloud, colour, weather, climate, season, mountain, terrain, time, planets and all the universe is moving and changing either slowly or quickly. Then what about human ways of life?

Ever since the dawn of human history the human ways of life has undergone some metamorphoses. People were wandering pickers in the distant past. They wandered just to collect food to satisfy their hunger. They lived together as a community and shared their food. They sang, worshipped and entertained together – even though the basic unit was family. Can you imagine in your mind’s eye the rising and falling tune of a traditional song and rhythmic dance of the indigenous people in a distant forest? Do you want to go back to that life: the searching for food, the fight against animals, the adventure, the sharing of food and the co-existing merriment? But it had its own weaknesses. They were ready to quarrel, fight with other communities for the sharing of space, water, food and to establish their dominance.  Hence the community living didn’t have a very broad vision. I strongly believe it is still so with the modern community living.

In the modern communist concept also people should co-exist as a community and work together not only to satisfy their hunger but also for the common cause to build up their nations. Hence here the love for nation may lead to the hatred of other nations and thereby stop the people to have a broad universal view.

In the next stage people slowly started to settle down. They built separate shelters for each family. They exchanged things for things (barter system) and later things for money and vice versa. They saved money, food and things for tomorrow, for next year and for a whole life. With the living for future have arrived all pressures, worries and complexities of modern life.

Now a days our busy town roads are flooded with two wheelers. Can you believe umpteen families are being transported here and there every other second? Now a bike is enough to carry a whole family. In the restaurants they creep into the separate family rooms; in the theatres they enjoy films sitting inside  family boxes; even in beaches they sit separately, eating  snacks and grinding grains, totally withdrawing themselves from the surrounding people. Of course they don’t want to fight like the community people, not because they have broad mind but because they wish to lead a happy, peaceful life. They wish to earn more money and save for tomorrow. In fact they have acquired a narrow mind. They are living for their own small family and for tomorrow and don’t want to share materials or feelings with others. Do you want to enter into this heaven with all the comforts of  middle class life but of course with the burdens and worries of future?

Look there, a seventy year old white American  is searching for an unknown village in this farthest corner of the world. He is moving forward in his half trousers holding a map in his hand completely neglecting the awe struck, spell bound village peasants. From where he got this unlimited valour and passion to explore and his determination and will to be self-reliant? This is the outcome of the great American and European individualistic life style. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the father figure of American transcendentalist philosophy fore told this great spirit of individualism which will diminish the glory of community living.

In the countries like India where family life is glorified, people are living for the future, that means to a certain extend they are living for the next generation sacrificing their wishes and interests. In our only one worldly life if all live for their next generation then when will they get a chance to live for themselves? Isn’t it better every one live their own life and of course by that in a humble way set track for the future generation to lead their own life?

These individualists are broken lose and brim with complete energy. They shine like shining stars with the complete use of their talents and creativity with less bondage from families and society. But on the other hand don’t we witness loners, lunatics and drug addicts among them? Are you interested to enjoy absolute freedom which sometimes leads to uncontrolled energy of an individual’s life?

Same as the colours in the sky which are changing always but still existing side by side, the qualities of all these three lifestyles mentioned above are co-existing in societies to  lesser or greater degrees. The emphasis given by different societies on a particular lifestyle, determines the characteristics of that society.

In this complex time I am not a person to advise somebody to choose this way of life or that one. Like the mixing of paints and change of colours in canvas, blessed are the people who enjoy the warmth of family love, cherish the pleasure of community sharing and gathering together and experience the energy and freedom of self-reliant individualistic living. Because life is like God’s canvas: colourful yet changing.


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