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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-01-14 20:04:05
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This duality of temper, followed by a duality of external events, soon made itself evident beyond the frontiers of Tibet. The progressive minority in all lands was dominated and was not dominated by a new, defiant, and gay confidence. Each mood produced everywhere its effect on action; but it was in Tibet that hope first triumphed, and it was Tibet’s miraculous success that inspired the rest of the world.

i. Harking Back to the Tibetan Revolution

I HAVE TOLD how, after the victory of the will for the light, there followed a period of explosive progress which gradually gave place to a much longer phase of Utopian stability. This phase, in which material civilization changed only in minor ways, must have lasted for many centuries. In the cultural life of the race also, though minor experiments and advances were constantly being made, no revolutionary changes occurred. The best minds of the race were busy exploring the new vistas which had been opened up for intellect and feeling by the founding of the new order. Of these cultural achievements naturally I can say no more than that achievement did occur. In the earlier part of this phase the new cultural ventures were not, I think, beyond the range of our contemporary human intelligence, but we have not the necessary background of experience to comprehend them. As well might a resuscitated ancient Egyptian understand modern science. Suffice it that throughout this period the growing point of culture kept shifting from one field to another. At one time it lay in pure science, at another in the application of science to industry or eugenics, at another in one or other of the arts, or in philosophy, or in the minutiae of concrete personal relations, or in religious feeling. Cultural leadership would pass now to one people or one social class, now to another.

The World Government jealously exercised its right to supervise all national educational systems so as to ensure that the essential principles of education for citizenship in the new world should not be violated; should in fact be vigorously practised. The aim was, not only to impart a clear outline of man’s story, along with some detail of national and provincial history, but also to foster the two supremely important human impulses, the will for community and the will for intelligence. Not only as between individuals but also as between peoples specialization was carefully restricted. Inevitably at first some countries were predominantly industrial, others agricultural, but it was deliberately designed that this specialization should be based on an underlying self-sufficiency. This surprised me, for the danger of war between the peoples had by now vanished. Why, then, this insistence on self-sufficiency? Partly, self-sufficiency was a result of natural economic development. With the great advance of physical and chemical technique, industry had become far less dependent on locality. Anything from food to typewriters could now be produced in almost any district, for the primary raw materials were vegetable tissues and the very common minerals.

On the one side was the sluggish reptilian will for ease and sleep and death, rising sometimes to active hate and destructiveness; on the other side the still blindfold and blundering will for the lucid and coherent spirit. Each generation, it seemed, set out with courage and hope, and with some real aptitude for the life of love and wisdom, but also with the fatal human frailty, and in circumstances hostile to the generous development of the spirit. Each in turn, in the upshot of innumerable solitary ephemeral struggles, sank into middle age, disillusioned or fanatical, inert or obsessively greedy for personal power.

The obliteration of Lhasa had destroyed the educational and spiritual nerve-centre of the state. For a while the great provincial religious institutions successfully carried on the task of maintaining the spiritual discipline of the population. But one by one these were destroyed. The older generation were still fortified by their past schooling, but the education of the young, formerly the state’s most urgent task, had now perforce to be neglected in favour of the insistent demands of defence. Consequently it became increasingly difficult for adolescents to resist the virus. Even at the height of Tibet’s prosperity the population had been small. Warfare had now greatly reduced it. Under the progressive regime the Tibetans had been the world’s healthiest people. Native toughness had co-operated with a magnificent health service. Those days were gone, for war had not only introduced disease germs but destroyed the health service. Moreover there had been heavy casualties among the herds of yak. Famine was still further weakening the stamina of the people. Worst of all, the water supply, always meagre, had been greatly reduced by the constant bombing of the dams.

Meanwhile a great war of words was resounding throughout the world. The Americans were allowed complete freedom of expression. Floods of radio propaganda issued from both sides. It became increasingly difficult to keep order in the Americas. There were many attacks on foreigners. Sheer nationalistic passion grew from day to day.

A law was passed by which everyone suspected of harbouring dangerous thoughts was condemned to have his brain made available for constant observation. This involved an operation for the insertion of the photoelectric mesh under his skull and the attachment of the necessary miniature accumulators to his crown by screws driven into the skull itself. If any attempt was made to tamper with the instrument, or if the accumulator was allowed to run down beyond a certain point, the unfortunate individual was automatically subjected to the most excruciating pain, which, if prolonged for more than an hour or so, culminated in permanent insanity. In addition to this transmission-instrument there was a minute radio telephone receiver driven into the mastoid bone. Thus not only were the subject’s thoughts and feelings open to inspection at every moment of his life by some remote official but also instructions, threats, or repetitive gramophone propaganda could be inflicted on him morning, noon, and night.


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