"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
 
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

One World & the Tamil Nation

30 October 1998

"...A true transnationalism will not come by the suppression of one nation by another. A true trans nationalism will come  from nationalisms that have flowered and matured - and to work for the flowering of the Tamil nation is to bring forward the emergence of a true trans nationalism. In the meantime, Tamils have no cause, to be apologetic about their togetherness as a people. As a people, they too have much to contribute to the rich fabric of the many nations of the world - and to world civilisation..."

A visitor to the tamilnation website commented: "The world is one unity. There is no Tamil or Telugu or Moslem or Christian. Truth is termination of search and therefore, useless. We are all standing on it. Nobody will ever know it..."

It is true that the world is 'one unity'. At the same time, Tamils living today in many lands are inevitably drawn to examine their relationship to that 'one world'.

Even if a Tamil should forget his national identity, the environment around him will often conspire to remind him, of that which he may have forgotten. As one of many illustrations, one may consider the case of a Tamil who lives in the United States. He may be a US citizen and he may wish to serve his country (and have the ability to do so), but his chances of becoming, say the President of the United States are remote. His Tamil identity becomes relevant to the way that others in the US will exercise their democratic right to vote. This is today's political reality. Even in other areas, (the higher that one climbs the ladder of 'success')  a Tamil may need to be better to be equal.

Again, even those non Tamils who may speak about the 'one world' (and decry divisions) are rarely prepared to give up their own national identity and they continue to live with seeming contentment in a world divided by nation states - - 'one world' for the Tamils but 'our nation' for the American, the Canadian, the French and so on.

It is when a Tamil comes across these lines that a sense of his own identity as a Tamil, quickly emerges within him. His past becomes relevant to his present and in this way, has something to do with his future. Every inside has an outside and the relationship between the two is intrinsic and dynamic - the relationship is not extrinsic and static.

When the rest of the world ceases to separate the Tamil as a Tamil, the Tamils themselves may truly become world citizens. But we cannot pretend to live in a world which has not yet arrived.

But that is not to say that we should not work toward the ideal of a 'one world' where the separate national identities of the peoples of the world will be transcended by a greater unity.

A true transnationalism will not come by the suppression of one nation by another. A true trans nationalism will come  from nationalisms that have flowered and matured; from peoples who have grown from dependence to independence and inter-dependence - and to work for the flowering of the Tamil nation is to bring forward the emergence of a true trans nationalism.

We believe that Tamils have no cause, to be apologetic about their togetherness as a people. As a people, they too have much to contribute to the rich fabric of the many nations of the world - and to world civilisation. At the same time, is true to say that the Tamils have gained, and continue to gain, by their interaction with other peoples and other cultures - particularly those of the Indian sub continent. No people are an island unto themselves. The Tamil people  do not take an exaggerated view of nationalism. They are not chauvinists.

And, how does one accept what is valuable in another's culture without losing that which is valuable in one's own cultural heritage? Here, it seems that the cultural identity of a people and their struggle for equality and freedom go hand in hand. It is only then, that the exchange between different cultures will remain voluntary and not enforced.

The words of Mahatma Gandhi will strike a chord, though some may dismiss them as an empty idealism:

"...My goal is friendship with the world and I can combine the greatest love with the greatest opposition to wrong ... Through the realisation of  freedom for India, I hope to realize and carry on the mission of the brotherhood of man..." One World and Mahatma Gandhi - R.R.Diwakar

Truth is admittedly a pathless land, and as you point out, (final) truth may be the termination of search - and beyond words. But that may not render the search itself useless. Here, Stephen Covey's quote from T.S.Eliot may be helpful:

"We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time."

Aurobindo's reflections on the Evolution of Man may also be of some relevance:

"Man's highest aspiration - his seeking for perfection, his longing for freedom and mastery, his search after pure truth and unmixed delight - is in flagrant contradiction with his present existence and normal experience. Such contradiction is part of Nature's general method; it is a sign that she is working towards a greater harmony. The reconciliation is achieved by an evolutionary progress."

The post modern vision as articulated by persons such as David Ray Griffin  helps to further our understanding of that evolutionary progress and the relation between the individual and society:

"... we are not simply the products of our natural and social environments. We are, to be sure, deeply constituted by our relations to these environments. But in each moment, we create ourselves out of these relations in terms of our desires, purposes, meanings, and values - in short our spirituality.

Because of this element of autonomy, individuals are not only shaped by their society; they can shape it in return. In stating this two fold position - that individuals are internally constituted by their social relations, and that they are nevertheless not totally determined by them - I have already rejected a modern for a post-modern viewpoint." (David Ray Griffin in Spirituality and Society:Postmodern Visions, 1989)

Theory and  practice are the two legs on which we walk. Theory informs our practice and practice refines our theory and Mahatma Gandhi's experiments with truth continue to inspire several decades after his death. The search for truth is not useless, though truth is a pathless land.   Gramsci's words remain persuasive:

"The man of action is the true philosopher: and the philosopher must of necessity be a man of action... the real philosopher is, and cannot be other than the politician, the active man who modifies his environment, understanding by environment the ensemble of relations which each of us enters to take part in".

 
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