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The Role of Writer in the Modern Age – Essay

Matthew Arnold, the well-known English poet-critic of the Victorian age, once criticized his countrymen for their materialism, vulgarity and coarseness and pointed out that it is poetry alone which can keep up high and noble ideals and views, and thus check the increasing brutality of the age. His words are equally applicable to the modern age. The writer to-day can play a crucial role in stemming the increasing tide of sexuality, violence and materialism, and the degradation of artistic and cultural values.

Heim Binas Fiction: January 2011

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Owing to the fast means of communication, the globe has shrunk. Nations of the world have come closer together. An event, disturbance, taking place in any one country is known all over the world the very next minute, and can even be seen on TV in many different countries. But this closeness has not resulted in greater understanding and goodwill. The same event, the same situation, is judged and evaluated differently in different parts of the world. Scales of the values and judgments’ still differ from country to country and this leads to misunderstanding and conflict. The urgent need of the day is creation of common standards of judgments, so that the nations of the world may come closer together mentally, as they have already done physically.

It is the writer alone who can perform this service to humanity. In the absence of such reconciliation of values and consequent lack of understanding, mankind is likely to be torn to pieces by strife and conflict. It is the writer alone who can reconcile these different values and create a single system of evaluation, for good deeds, and bad deeds, for what is tolerable and what is intolerable. It is the writer alone who can explain to mankind what is really evil, intolerable and terrible.

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It is the writer alone who can create the understanding that human nature is basically alike; that people in distant lands suffer from similar grief’s and joys, loves and hatreds, sorrows and sufferings. In this way, by stressing the similarity rather than the difference between the people and people, he can create a better understanding of each other’s problems and thus lessen strife and conflicts. All conflicts and war result from misunderstanding but writers by creating understanding can serve as powerful instruments of world peace. It is the writer alone who can make the concept of, ‘one world’ real and effective.

Brute force is triumphant today. Not only that violence it justified and glorified. Greed, envy, jealousy and hatred are euphuistically called “class struggle” racial struggle, the struggle of the masses, or the struggle of organized labor, etc. refusal to compromise and come to terms is glorified as sticking to one’s principles, or standing for one’s ideology. This refusal to compromise claims millions of victims in eternal internecine wars. Such wars wrongly stress that there is no stable, universal, conception of goodness and justice, that all such conceptions are fluid and changeable, so that one should always act as is advantageous to his own party or country. Planes are hijacked, hostages are seized, explosions are caused, and property is burnt or destroyed, all in the name of patriotism and nationalism. Violence today threatens to shake and destroy civilization.

It is forgotten that “pen is mightier than the sword” that, “ideas move the world”. Writer can play an important role in preserving human civilization from this onslaught of barbarism. It is they who can make the world see things in their true light. It is they who can open the eyes of the world to the full horror of wars, class wars, racial wars, ideological wars of all sorts. Lets us not forget that violence does not exist by itself and cannot do so. It is necessarily accompanied with falsehood and false propaganda. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood. Falsehood is its only support and stay. It is the writer alone who can conquer the lie. It is they who can propagate the truth in a world of lies. They can expose untruth and focus the searchlight of truth on human affairs. “In the struggle with falsehood, truth has always won and always will win. One word of truth shall outweigh the whole world”. The role of the writer is crucial in the present day world.

Twentieth century is characterized by an increasing degradation of human nature. There is increased regimentation in all spheres of life. Despite all our boast of democracy and freedom of expression, there is an increasing tendency today to treat man as a more automation or machine, to subordinate him to the state. Even in democratic countries, the concept of the welfare state has resulted in the widening of the powers of the state, and the consequent interference with the day today life of the individual. In a planned economy, the individual enjoys little freedom to life of the individual. In a planned economy, the individual enjoys little freedom to live his own life according to his own right. Things are not seen in the correct perspective, and machines tend to become the masters of men, instead of remaining their slaves. It is the writer who can present things in the correct perspective, and thus restore sanity and balance. Writer can move the soul and touch the heart. They can serve as a powerful force waging a relentless struggle for the dignity and glory of the human soul.

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Writers can serve as custodians of spiritual and cultural values in a world disfigured by increasing industrialization and urbanization. Industrialization despoils the beauty of nature, pollutes the atmosphere and darkens the sky. City slums, over-crowding, immorality, disease and a thousand other socio-economic evils are all the creations of industrialization. As D.H. Lawrence, the noted English novelist, said long go,” the human soul hungers for hungers for beauty, and it are beauty which is denied to him by the ugliness of an urban civilization”.

Life in an industrial town deadens artistic sensibility. Production on a mass scale militates against art and artistic values. Writers alone can satisfy the hunger of the human soul for beauty; they alone can bring to it aesthetic satisfaction. Writers by creating beautiful works of literature can make the human soul enjoy that beauty which is denied to them by their ugly environment. Writers can mitigate, to a great extent, that industrial unrest which so frequently threatens to disturb peace and disrupt production. They can provide so much needed relief from urban tensions, and apply that shooting balm to the lacerated and spirit of humanity.

In the brutalized, materialized and vulgarized world of today, the writers are our surest stay and support. Scientists and technologists cater only to the material needs of man; the writers, poets, dramatists, novelists, etc. supply his spiritual wants.” man does not live by bread only”, he wants intellectual and spiritual food as well, he needs noble ideas and ideals also, and all this is provided by the writer.

It has been said the ideas move the world, and it is the writer who creates those ideas. Therefore, the writer should be allowed to create in perfect freedom. The suppression and silencing of writers by government interference, the denial of freedom to them, is not only a source of danger to some particular nation or country, but to the world as a whole. The role of the writer is beneficial for humanity and he must be allowed to express himself unhampered. Their lies the salvation of mankind.

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