Dawn came slowly, like a bride eager for the moment when her marriage is to be solemnised, yet shy and nervous, prolonging the time and savouring each minute. Rays of golden sunlight pierced through the thick canopy of dark clouds which moved slowly and majestically across the vast sky. With the advance of morning, a rosy glow bathed the world in warmth and light, and the earth awakened to life and sounds of the insects, birds and animals forming an orchestra with their various sounds, and the gentle wind playing a symphony among the trees.
The first man stood on a hill, his primitive mind drinking in the beauty of the panaroma before him. He looked to the east, and saw the sea, sparkling like a gigantic basin of sapphires, in the early morning light. To his west, were the primeval jungles with animals of all shapes and sizes, some of which he hunted for food and some of which would prey on his descendants as food. The mountains stretched blue into the distance, their peaks shrouded in mist and clouds, and at his feet, the dew lay on the soft green grass like a million diamonds, glittering and reflecting tiny rainbow points of light.
This was the first man, and by modern standards, he was not even intelligent, yet he knew whether by instinct or something else, that this land as far as his eyes could see was his land, this the kingdom of which he was master.
Millenniums passed, and often descendants of the first man stalked the jungles, scaled the mountains and sailed the seas. First man’s descendants became increasingly intelligent with passing of time. From nomad, he became settler, building great settlements which became great cities. He tamed wild animals to become beasts of burden and to do his work for him. He invented machines to make life easier for himself, to enable him to discover new things and to learn even more.
And now we, the descendants of the primitive first man, are well into the 20th century (1977), 21st century (today). We have come a long way from our forefathers and each discovery brings us closer to the zenith of civilization; perhaps we may even reached it and have started on the downward climb. And looking at the world around us, the road mankind is taking appears to be more one of decline than of ascendance.
Man’s intelligence has enabled him to land on the moon; if he so wished, he could probably colonise it in the near future. He is able to send unmanned space probes to probe the secrets of Mars. With giant telescopes he can study far-off stars that would take hundreds of light years to reach. And now, he stands on the threshold of a great, frightening and awe-inspiring discovery, the creation of life itself.
Mankind had broken through the last frontiers on earth and each day, he extends is frontiers further and further into space. But as the joke goes on, ‘Man had landed on the moon yet he cannot cure the common cold back on earth’. In his race for discoveries of new things and the creation of more machines to ease his life, man has brought about new problems, which, like the common cold, he finds hard or even impossible to find solutions to. Thus in the foreseeable future, man may conquer the outer reaches of space but for the present, he is plagued with problems at home. It is admirable that man builds great cities to house himself. He forms codes to govern the society of these cities.
Undoubtedly, much of life’s convenience can be attributed to the ease of transport. Our modern world has ships, planes, trains, cars, buses, bicycles, motorcycles and what-have-you. To get them one place to another wer have our choice of the various modes of transport. Travel is not as fraught with danger and hardship as it was in ancient times. Increased wealth and affluence means that more people own cars. The result is something the very mention of which is enough to get avowed environmentalists on the war-path. This ill of progress is pollution, naturally. A newcomer to cities, cities and cities may look at the haze obscuring the city and say, ” Mist, how nice ? “. Any resident who knew better could tell him it was not nature’s mist but man-made ‘SMOG’. As if there were not enough, pollution too has set up in the rivers and high seas. Oil spills are destroying the delicate balance of marine ecology in places all over the world, and sometimes killing fishes outright. The Fisrt World War passed, minor wars erupted in between, followed by the Second World War which brought about something, Mankind will always have reason to be ashamed of the famous Auschwitz and others of its kind.
Is man the master of all he surveys ? To give an affirmative answer now, would be like saying in the light of present circumstances that “the sun never sets on British Empire”. In the very beginning, man was master over all he surveyed. He had “dominion over the fish of the fish and over ther birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”. (Genesis 1:28). But between then and now, that dominion has somehow been lost and what is left is but the vestiges of that early dominion. Of course, the earth and all that is within it belongs to man for there is no one else to claim it. It is man himself who has contributed to that loss of dominion for he created situations which he could not control, and is unable to master the consequences which have arisen from the brain-child of his own intelligence. How can man still be the master of himself and of his own actions ?
U6A Page 62
The Optimist 1977