Kids Corner


The Chickens Come Home To Roost







We don’t need experts to analyse the sad goings-on in Europe today; that is, the tsunami of refugees fleeing their war-torn homelands and the epidemic of tragedies flowing from their desperation.

For as long as I can remember -- and my memory goes way back -- it’s been trite knowledge that time was running out, and if the richer nations of the world did not address the issues around the North-South divide in a meaningful way, sooner or later they would have to face the hordes that would invariably turn up at their gates.

Then, if and when that would happen, we all seemed to agree whenever the conversation turned to such issues, that things would thereafter take their natural course: just as when a river overflows its banks and at random seeks new directions.

Though smug in distant North America, which so far is still beyond easy reach of those seeking succour, we can still -- if we try hard and remain objective -- see the forest for the trees.

Does one need to be a TV-show talking-head -- sadly, all seem to have turned mercenary and partisan -- to figure out that what’s happening in Europe today is not a blip in or a hiccup of history, that it is but another stage in the cause-and-effect continuum of events which began a long, long time ago? 

Did anyone think that after centuries of brutal and inhumane colonialism that destroyed, distorted, inverted and perverted cultures around the world, that once the colonizers went home, then all would be forgiven and forgotten; that the former colonizers and the colonized would simply revert to pretending that nothing had happened; that the plunderers could continue to enjoy the spoils ad nauseum; that the descendants of the victims would quietly pick-up the pieces and start building again, with an unspoken understanding that no one was to refer to the ugly past -- except for Hollywood, of course, which could freely fantasize on the ’glorious’ exploits carried out for the benefit of humanity under the ’white man’s burden’?

Let’s focus, for this particular exercise, on just the Middle-East, which is the source of the current exodus emanating centrifugally from the region.

And let’s turn the spot-light on just the last century or so, not the even more eventful centuries that preceded it.

We are the rich nations. We got rich by historically stealing from those who, as a result, remain poor. It helps us little to point to the rich regimes that we prop up in those nations, because they merely add to the general misery. To be honest, the ultimate responsibility is all ours.
The West has repeatedly pounced on the nations of the area since the end of the 19th century as if it had the God-given right and duty to rape, pillage and plunder all they could put their hands on, and carry their respective bounties home to feather their own nests.

It has then drawn and quartered these lands, cut and carved them at will, rearranged the pieces, bartered them amongst each other as if in a board game of Monopoly, and left behind deputies and armies to facilitate the easy flow of revenue and resources to their own countries.

Each time they fight a war amongst themselves -- conveniently named ’world wars’ -- the winners take the losers’ spoils, which more often than not consist of their former colonial territories. The round table conferences held after each world conflagration are but shameful examples of such Darwinian behaviour, but have since been conveniently and carefully shrouded in respectability.

Each time the North gets into dog-fights within its constituent nations, the South bears the brunt of it all by financing them or being used as pawns to settle matters.

If you think all of that I have described is distant or early 20th century history, then you have naively swallowed the shallowness shown by our present-day TV  commentators and spin-doctors.

Just check out Google -- no serious research is required -- to find out the string of western interventions (to use a very kind term) in the Middle-East since, say 1950. You’ll find that not a single year has gone by without some western country or the other -- that is, European or North American -- playing mischief in one part or the other in the Middle-East.

The net result?

Constant changing of political regimes and boundaries, and a simultaneous theft of Middle-Eastern resources … always to the benefit of the West.

How and why do we, who are not involved in these day-to-day shenanigans and machinations carried out in our names, allow them?

Simple. We have been sold a bill of goods, mainly blaming it all on a deviant Islamic world, and deflecting all blame from the ultimate marauders. The task of selling this red herring has been easy because there is considerable truth to the  allegation that the Islamists are rowdy and violent, out-of-control, anarchic and untrustworthy, but where we miss the boat -- and therefore any chance of finding a solution -- is that we refuse to even look at who is the root-cause (and continues to be) for all the mayhem of today.              

The hope, of course, by the unscrupulous amongst us is that the voices of the wronged will remain muffled, and things can continue as usual as long as the public remains fooled.

Like all tyrannies, this scheme works for a while.

However, nature always has a way of correcting things.

Nature has its own laws and does not get bamboozled by human mischief and machinations.

Thus, even though the concept of the ’sins of the fathers’ visiting on the children is frowned upon by our worldly laws, it has always been, and remains, a cardinal law of nature.

What’s happening in Europe today is exactly that. There are clichés galore to explain the phenomenon: The chickens are coming home roost. And, ah yes, the sins of the fathers are being visited upon the children, and on the children of the children …

I fear -- and I hope I’m wrong -- that what we see today is only the beginning. The worst is yet to come. And when it will come, it will come all the way to the North American shores too, for surely we haven’t forgotten the lessons of Pearl Harbour and 9/11: that we may be safe for a while, but ultimately, it’s a small world.

Sure, we can come up with short-term solutions. Military action is always attractive because it pushes back the problem to past the horizon and out of sight.

But again, not for long. New gripes are building up with geometrical speed, thanks to George W. Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld. The wars that today’s wannabe refugees are fleeing from are actually fuelled by the weapons of mass destruction we (not Saddam Hussain!) manufactured here in the West and then peddled them in the Middle-East. So, blaming it on Islam does not fool those who matter the most, and know the raw truth.

Dismiss me as a Cassandra if you wish, call me a fool if you will.

But let’s not ignore the writing on the wall or turn deaf ears to the growing commotion outside the gates. If we do so, we do it at our peril … or that of our children.

*   *   *   *   *

Matters are even more complicated on the subcontinent, what with the pathological anti-Muslim hatred that has been injected into the national psyche by the RSS and other right-wing Hindu fanatics.

Sadly, the poison has now infected the country’s Sikhs as well and, being stuck in present-day India in which the majority is hell-bent on self-destruction, they seem to be losing their historical and ideological ability to look beyond religion and play their unique role as guardians of justice and fair-play.

Therefore, just as the West is paying for its sins, India and Indians too suffer from a visceral blindness … at their own peril.


 September 4, 2015

Conversation about this article

1: Parmjit Singh (Canada), September 04, 2015, 8:07 AM.

Logic and truth make a good writer. Weave into the pen a soldier's sword, humility, and heroic empathy and we've got a great writer. Once again a revolutionary in this small corner of the cyberworld shines the brightest. Thank you, T.Sher Singh ji!

2: Kulvinder Jit Kaur (Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada), September 04, 2015, 10:13 AM.

Well written and well explained. People have a tendency to oversimplify matters and look at the obvious and term it "good " or "bad". When one looks deeper, only then can one fully understand the problem. In order to solve anything one has to get to the root cause. Otherwise we keep complicating it further. In all this talk of taking in refugees on humanitarian grounds, we have not heard anything from Saudi Arabia. They have all the resources to settle these fellow Muslim brothers in various parts of the world, including their own country. What always astonishes me is the collective reaction to a visual. The picture of a drowned child is very sad. Just because we don't get to see the pictures of thousands of other children dying everyday as a result of bombardments/firing and starvation does not mean their deaths are any less. If we could see that every day, our collective reaction of compassion could halt all the wars in all the countries. Our collective reaction of disgust for all the merchants of war and weaponry and their profiteering from manufactured conflicts could put a stop to the war-mongering. Our collective reaction to form a more humanitarian foreign policy could force our present politicians and wannabe leaders to re-think their international alliances. I totally agree with the writer. Nature's law will come to pass. What we sow today, we will have to reap sooner or later. One cannot escape the law(s) of nature.

3: Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), September 07, 2015, 10:25 AM.

Thank you, Sher ji, for articulating it so well. No, you are not wrong. This is what happens when we quietly watch, for decades, hundreds die in Africa every week. By the way, where is Russia, and where are all the Arab countries? Did they ever help or take any refugees?

4: Yuktanand Singh (Michigan, USA), September 07, 2015, 10:27 AM.

But I see no end until all the developed countries will intervene together as one, with the army as well as humanitarian aid, just as America intervened during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. This was done only because the epidemic was going to hit home and the entire world. Similarly, nothing will change until we will make hunger, famine, and war in other countries as our problem, not ‘their’ problem.

5: Aryeh Leib Lerner (Israel), September 08, 2015, 4:25 AM.

"However, nature always has a way of correcting things. Nature has its own laws and does not get bamboozled by human mischief and machinations." This anthropomorphasized "Nature" is, in my opinion (and maybe in Sikh thought as well - anyone know for sure?) nothing but a spectacular special effects generator of Maya to lead us to believe that the Universe runs itself. Standing behind this "generator" is the Guru, who watches to see if we'll take the bait. History would seem to indicate that there are so very many factors (some coming completely out of left field) involved in the course of human affairs that to speak of anything resembling a Law of Nature is sheer folly. As a single, small example I just read recently of how Britain during WW II was saved from a massive German invasion by the error of a single Luftwaffe navigator, leading to the bombing of a civilian target instead of an R.A.F. base, and Hitler's subsequent cancelling of the entire invasion. As for the joint intervention of the developed countries, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen - not to mention the justified charge from the under-developed world of, "There they go again, imposing their will on us helpless victims; will their arrogance never cease?". "Developed", however, is more than just sophisticated gadgetry. Had the Chinese used the gunpowder they invented for weapons instead of fireworks, can anyone doubt that the conquest of the known world would have been at their hands, and not the Europeans'? "Developed" must also include the notion of government from the bottom up, as opposed to the forms we too often see on the world stage, where the individual is not considered except as the personal property of the ruling class. It's the highly dangerous combination of technological development combined with political under-development that's at the root of much of what drives the misery under which so much of the human race is suffering today.

6: Jessie Kaur (Liverpool, England), September 08, 2015, 10:09 AM.

Sorry, Aryeh ji ... couldn't disagree with you more. There IS a Law of Nature ... a whole cluster of them. Gravity, for one. Day follows night follows day. The progress of seasons. Sow and reap. And so on. So is the following law: Every action and inaction has a consequence. And that consequence cannot be weaseled out of, neither by cleverness, nor by subterfuge, nor by delay ... We as human beings know that deep inside. Hence we find ways of justifying or learning to suffer through those consequences by creating self-comforting myths around ourselves: God is on our side. We are the children of the Son of God. We are the Chosen People. We are the Pure. And so on. If you think there isn't a law of nature, try lifting one foot and, while standing unaided and keeping it in the air, lift the other. You can't. Why? Law of Nature. Period. I believe Sher Singh ji is correct. There are always consequences. Direct and proportional, and the rest flows from them, invariably and inevitably. All that religious institutions have done through time, however, is to try and hide that harsh but brutally fair fact of life.

7: Bakshish Singh (New Delhi, India), September 08, 2015, 11:54 AM.

Aryeh ji: In Sikhi, Nature IS God, The Guru. Waheguru is in fact uniquely de-anthropomorphasized in Sikhi, unlike in all other world religions where it is the opposite and 'he' is an angry old man raining holy terror on human beings, albeit mixed at times with some bon bons thrown at us as appeasers and appetizers. It is the Sikh idea of Nature that Sher Singh is talking about.

8: Ajit Singh Batra (Pennsville, New Jersey, USA), September 09, 2015, 10:38 AM.

The Middle East is a region that is primarily inhabited by Muslims. Muslim-to-Muslim problems, religion-wise (e.g., the Shia and Sunni conflict) and region-wise (territorial integrity disputes with, e.g., Israel) will never go away. These are everlasting problems. The region lacks the skills to resolve the differences through diplomacy, love and peace, but instead pursues brutalization of each other. Western nations will always take advantage of the turmoil in the Middle East for their personal gains.

9: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 09, 2015, 2:21 PM.

Herein lies the irony and the hypocrisy. There are more than 50 resource-rich Muslim countries in the world who constantly fight with Israel for having taken a small piece of land but they do not have a little land and resources to spare for their own people.

10: Kaala Singh (Punjab), September 09, 2015, 2:31 PM.

@6: Europe massacred its Jews who contributed to their progress and replaced them with Muslims. Do I need to tell you what is going on in Europe these days -- this is what is called "Karma" or as you said -- Law of Nature.

11: Amandeep (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 12, 2015, 10:48 AM.

Beautiful article. When leadership is in the hands of novices who cannot look ahead and their immediate concern is to win elections and the applause of masses, the long term dangers can be many. Indira Gandhi partitioned Pakistan in 1971 and was hailed as the goddess and won the election thumpingly. She lost the next election because she lost a court case and was found guilty of fraud. So, she declared an emergency and assumed dictatorial powers and suspended parliament. She came back to power in 1980 and created a mess in attacking The Golden Temple in 1984 and became a criminal Durga and her son won the 1984-85 election by securing above 80 percent seats in parliament. Individuals win, countries face the consequences and minorities suffer because in a democracy leaders go for vote-seeking popular measures. I am not on the side of clergy who created the problem of The Golden Temple but am distressed by the way innocent and simple people were targeted and the Great library and Toshakhana (treasury) were pillaged and burnt. Chief Minister Modi was an unknown entity. In the Gujarat riots of 2002 he wanted to teach another minority a lesson, and became a hero to the Hindu majority overnight. It is a game of numbers. It is good that there are daring people who can speak boldly and against their own countrymen

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