Do we appreciate the advantages of our age? The choices that are now available to us? Now that we are released from blind tradition, that we can “choose” the best of each age, each culture.
I value that choice. For then, I can take what I value from each one. For me, America is not just today’s technological whizz kid. It is the pioneer America I wonder about – the spirit that made men and women leave all and try anew in a new land with naught but faith, hope and labor – the brave pioneer. I take from the British their humor and sense of the ridiculous and a certain meticulousness. From China antiquity and moderation, from Japan industry, from French “chic,” from Italians their warmth, from South East Asians their quiet poise.
And what from India? Synthesis and improvisation – there is a process that flows deeply there I can’t quite give it a name but what has kept it alive for millennium. For sheer endurance, one cannot beat India, for persisting despite all she has been put through, and that comes from flexibility; a way of incorporating the incongruous, the alien and the absurd.
What I wish today is just this – let us be open to admire and emulate the best which each culture has to offer. For none have ever known the whole truth; each has found a particular aspect and polished it up – let us take those strengths and see how they face up to today.
And then let us choose and choose well. Choose the kind of life we want and not be carried away by catch phrases such as quality of life. For while all can perhaps agree about the necessities of life no two humans could perhaps define this quality in the same way.
This is a piece I wrote many years ago in India when I was working as an Editorial Assistant for a book agency in New Delhi. It was inspired by the range of books that landed on my desk and which I had to peruse and often write a blurb for, for the dust jacket or other publicity material.