Essay No. 6:
“East Is East And West Is West And Never The Train Shall Meet” It is a couplet from Rudyard Kipling’s poem, which throws light on the nature of the East and the West. Both are separate entities with characteristics of their own. East and West are like two banks of a running stream, never to merge each other. Both are to retain their individual characteristics.
The East is the symbolism of spiritualism. It is thought to be the upholder of spiritual values of life. It practices religion and on the whole, promotes spiritualism. The East is a citadel of different religions and people practice religion mostly in a conventional manner. They go by the conventional form of religion. They do not interpret religion in a rational way. They accept dogmas and mostly do not try to offer any rational interpretation of religion. The west, on the contrary, seems to have discarded religion. It appears to have embraced materialism and accepted its ascendancy over religion. The West goes by rationality which it exercises in every matter. It does not go by emotionalism. Life demands to apply reason to resolve the knotty problems of life. The West thus has made phenomenal economic, industrial progress in the world. Rationality is the hallmark of the west, while sentimentalism is that of the East.
The west blindly chases materialism to the neglect of religion. It does not believe in the Biblical saying that man does not live by bread alone. It is trying to live by bread alone. It is a lop-sided approach to life. The blind pursuit of materialism can not get the man to discover the inner gaps in his being. The West’s alienation towards religion has degenerated life to the level of animalism. The West’s excessive preoccupation with materialism has landed it in an unpleasant situation.
The East is economically underdeveloped. It is steeped into the abject type of poverty. More than thirty percent of the population in most of the Eastern countries lives below the poverty line. The poverty is to be reduced to provide better living opportunities to the people. The objective can be realized by attaining high down rate in the poor Eastern countries but there are many constraints of varied nature, which are to be overcome. The East’s underdevelopment poses a serious problem to the perpetual of backwardness and poverty.
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The East and the West have to learn something from each other. The East must learn to develop the habit of arguing things rationally; rational thinking can yield rational decisions to tackle the myriad problems confronting the East. Resolution of problems demands cool rational reasoning on the part of the East. Top of all, East must learn from the West the secrets of modern technology, though the latter is reluctant to provide it to the former. The East will have to develop the technology of its own through research and development. It needs indigenous technology to utilize natural resources. The East in the present times marked by rapid changes in the domain of technology, which will have to keep itself abreast of those changes in order to move along the currents of time. It is an interdependent world. The interaction between the East and the West must take place in areas of mutual interest.
The West should reduce the craze of materialism. It must learn something from the East. It should not make bread alone the objective of life. It must view life in a broader perspective. While material progress has to be made, the material side of the self of man need not be neglected. Bread is not everything in human life. Life must go beyond materialism to reckon with its finer aspects like music, painting, poetry, religion etc.
The burden of the song is that though East and West are two separate entities, yet there must be some form of social interaction between the two for mutual advantage.