I’m supposed to be doing something important.
I’m supposed to be doing something of significance; my mug of coffee sits right next to me, for I intend to work through the night. While others, outside my apartment, revel in the celebration of the upcoming year, I have to get some work done.
But as is wont, I have decided to throw caution to the winds. And instead, I recall a poem that I’d read a while ago… The poem in question is by William Wordsworth- the great romantic.
Another year!—another deadly blow!
Another mighty Empire overthrown!
And We are left, or shall be left, alone;
The last that dare to struggle with the Foe.
‘Tis well! from this day forward we shall know
That in ourselves our safety must be sought;
That by our own right hands it must be wrought;
That we must stand unpropped, or be laid low.
O dastard whom such foretaste doth not cheer!
We shall exult, if they who rule the land
Be men who hold its many blessings dear,
Wise, upright, valiant; not a servile band,
Who are to judge of danger which they fear,
And honour which they do not understand.
When Wordsworth wrote this piece, he was obviously referring to Napoleon’s victory at Jenna which began the process, starting mid-October, of the overthrowing of Prussia.
And although the poem does talk about an era gone by, it interests me that the verses still reverberate, over ten score years later. Another mighty Empire may not have fallen in 2014- not directly, Ukraine being an exception (but let’s face it, it wasn’t mighty), but I submit that Emperors, and by extension, Empires have changed in the time that has elapsed between Wordsworth and us.
From a society that lived in communities, to a society that revolves around the individual, we’ve grown to becoming emperors of ourselves. And hence, when each individual right has been snatched in the year gone by, an Empire has fallen. In ourselves, safety has been sought. In our unity, we’ve tried our best to show our foes the power we hold, united. Sure, our battles have been lost- but then, the war isn’t over.
But then, the fall of an empire doesn’t necessarily imply vacuum. The fall of an empire, more often than not, has led to the birth of another. It isn’t always as Marullus exclaimed, “What tributaries follow him to Rome?”. And in the year gone by, rose an empire- if we may call it so- but unfortunately, its leader is a thug; its foes are thugs and its supporters are thugs. So, what reason is there for us to exult? The men, who rule the land hold no blessings dear. Their twisted understanding of politics and theology makes them unwise beings… their disregard for human life makes them cowards- for in their desire to keep their subjects under servile fearfulness, they reveal their dishonour.
Which eventually brings us back to the land that claims civilisation. A land that has oft’ emerged as a winner- and hence its historians tend to paint history in with their colours. But to be rational, must one not disassociate oneself from one’s surroundings and look at things from a distance? What difference lies between us and them? In both places, the subjects are neglected. In both places, human trafficking exists. In both places, human life is devalued- especially if it belongs to another race or faith. And yet, we’re told that “they’re different”.
True, another year has gone. And another deadline has been missed. But the broken world that we wake up to, the fragments created by our boundaries, the irresponsible use of our vetoes that has devalued human freedom, makes the world ache.
One hopes that a new world order is on her way. One prays that Arundhati Roy’s hearing is sound, when she said that she could “hear her breathing”. But until we confirm the veracity of that, “We are left, or shall be left, alone.”