Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Poet on Civil liberty

( The following is the text of the message which was sent by Rabindranath Tagore to the London Conference on Civil Liberty in India held on October 17th, 1937.) Liberty is a privilege which the individual has to defend daily for himself;for even the most democratic Government tend to be oppressive if its tyranny is tempted by the indifference or cowardice of its subjects.Hence the need for a Civil Liberties Union in any system of Government,and hence the need for such unions to realize that they cannot safeguard liberty for the individual if they do not teach him to defend it for himself by his continual readiness to pay for it by sacrifice. The problem is one,not of external organisation so much , as of inducing the appropriate moral qualities in the individual , of creating in him an awareness of his innate worth as an individual . Otherwise , if the individual is made to care for liberty as a means of attaining mere material satisfaction , then the State will easily tempt him to part with it by holding out to him the bait of better satisfactions ; which is what is actually happening in party dictatorships - Red , Black or Brown. The English people too , though they are traditionally supposed to cherish liberty for its own sake , have allowed other peoples to be robbed of it without any scruple whatsoever , simply because their greed for material satisfactions has been effectively appeased thereby.Perhaps my English friends will not agree with me there , but when the rivalry for colonial exploitation would become still more acute , the British citizens will find it necessary to arm their Government at home with extraordinary powers to defend their possessions abroad . Then they will suddenly wake up to find that , without meaning it , they have forfeited their own liberty and drifted into a Fascist grip , and may be , the they will realize that liberty has a true foundation only in the moral worth of the individuals who compose the State. [Gurudev has given the poetry of civil liberty . It bears reproduction in a weekly journal like Harijan although the statement has gone round the world. It is a paraphrase of "Work out Thine Own Salvation" ,or "Man Is His Own Enemy and His Own Friend".- M.K.Gandhi, Harijan , 23-10-'37,p.308 ]

No comments: