Why the Nails Grow

By Lalit Surjan – Vice President of All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation

At the end of the tunnel you see a flicker of light, only to realise that another tunnel lies ahead. Thus goes the caption of a cartoon that I saw in a magazine recently. As we pass from one anniversary to another of that deadly day sixty-two years ago, we are also engulfed by a sense of Déjà vu that many more tunnels are still to be crossed before we finally reach our cherished goal. Each passing year throws before us new situations, new problems and new challenges that we must face. One year it is aggression on Iraq by the almighty US, the next year it might be the threat of nuclear bomb in possession of North Korea, or for that matter Indo-US nuclear deal, or the potentially explosive situation in Iran. Even when we talk of using nuclear power for peaceful purpose, we know that it comes with its own set of problems, which cannot be ignored. We have only recently witnessed such a problem in the case of a minor accident in a power plant in Japan. In short, the entire nuclear issue is getting more and more complex as the time flies past.
Yet, the peace movements all over the world continues to work relentlessly for finding solutions to these grim realities. We have never let despondency take over our souls as we continue to walk on our chosen path. Deep in our hearts we know that the collective wisdom of the peace-loving majority of the world populace shall prevail ushering in the era of enduring peace very soon. We, as volunteers for peace have high regards for the common sense of ordinary men and women. Hence, it is our belief that the human race was able to progress from the ancient times to this far, only because it had always preferred peace to violence and civility to raw instincts. If there have been aberrations on the way, and without doubt there are examples galore, it has fought them with all the might at its command. As a student of literature, I find enough material in the works of our great masters to support this view.
I wish to tell you here about a major Hindi writer of the twentieth century. In one of his more widely read essays he ponders over “Why the Nails Grow”. He mulls- “It seems to me that though the nails served man as weapons in the pre-historic days, he now wants to discard them. He no longer wants to keep the remains of the barbaric ages. Yet, I doubt if cutting nails is enough. The cruelty of the man has not diminished. The nail-bearing man of yore has today come to depend upon the atom bomb. After all, the massacre of Hiroshima has happened only recently. But if he coolly thinks, he would know that the tendency to grow nails is the manifestation of animal instinct, and the tendency to cut them is the symbol of humanity. Therefore it would be most desirable to teach our young people that be it nails on a person, or weapons in possession of a society, it is imperative to check their growth for the sake of humanity.” The name of this celebrated writer is Hazari Prasad Divedi. He was a disciple of the great Ravindra Nath Tagore. This year we are observing his birth centenary.

It is such thought that keeps us walking. We want to abandon all sorts of weapons and make this earth a safer and better place to live in. We want to leave for our children a world that is free of weapons and wars, a world free of hatred and mistrust, a world free of tyrants and despots, a world free of self-appointed guardians and saviours. We dream of a world where the sun and the moon, the breeze and the waves, the snow and the grass all sing in harmony and peace reigns supreme. Let us re-dedicate ourselves this day to work tirelessly for making this dream come true.