THE BLOG
05/06/2013 11:13 am ET | Updated Jul 06, 2013

An Eye for an Eye

As human beings, there are a number of nifty areas we have developed as evidence that we are different from the other species in the animal kingdom.

One of them is that we are good at crafting homilies and whirling them around as if they are rosary beads and by merely rubbing them an aura of piety will protect us as a result.

There is no dearth of those in India who will roll their eyes heavenwards on a moment's notice and quote you Mohandas Gandhi's words: "An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind," and wallow in the borrowed glow.

Well, here's the most recent dollop of reality.

Several years ago -- in the year 1990, to be precise -- an Indian spy who had been sent across the Pakistani border with the express mission of creating murder and mayhem in the streets of Lahore with a string of home-made bombs, had the misfortune of getting caught. He was convicted for the murder of 14 innocent bystanders who were mowed down by a bomb planted by him. He was tried, found guilty and was sentenced to death.

He has been languishing in a Lahore death row since then, while the two warring nations played political football, trying to negotiate a deal for his repatriation.

Until April 26, 2013. When he was found unconscious in his cell, having ostensibly been beaten by his jail mates. He died shortly thereafter. Pakistani government authorities are suspected of being behind his "execution-style" injuries.

His body was sent back to India last week and, amidst much jingoism and proclamations of "martyrdom," he was cremated with state honours.

A sordid tale, no matter which side you listen to.

But wait ... the saga continues.

The very land where every politician of every ilk can quote you ol'man Gandhi until he's blue in the face, having received the proverbial bloodied eye, has decided to waste no time and -- contrary to Gandhian rhetoric -- hit back by blinding its enemy.

As if on cue, a Pakistani prisoner languishing in a jail cell in Jammu in India -- having been convicted like his Indian counterpart, also for murder and mayhem but on Indian soil -- was found similarly beaten up and is now in critical condition.

His injuries were inflicted shortly after the body of the Indian spy was flown across the border and landed on Indian soil.

In both cases, the beatings could not have happened without an express nod from the respective governments.

And so the cycle continues.

With each side blinded in one eye on this count alone, the proverbial ball is back in the Pakistani court. It is their turn now to poke the Indians in the eye.

The two countries were created a mere 66 years ago and, like all other close relatives in human history, are continually at each other's throats in the age-old Cain-and-Abel tradition.

Just as youthful nations haven't shown a fresh approach, older nations -- even those we'd consider modern and progressive and civilized -- are at the same game as if there is no tomorrow.

The closer the familial relationship, the more murderous is the outcome.

Jews and Muslims -- Semitic cousins! - in the Middle East.

Jews and Christians and Muslims everywhere -- Abrahamic cousins umbilically linked through the Old Testament.

You name any country and it too will have its good reasons and legal justifications for murder and mayhem.

Catholic vs. Protestant, Shiite vs. Sunni, Hutu vs. Tutsi, Sephardic vs. Ashkenazi, black vs. white, Brahmin vs. "untouchable," male vs. female...

The daily blindings continue. Each poking begets another.

The outrage on 9/11, it is claimed, was in response to a litany of grievances. In response, we had Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hopping from one time period to another, one wavelength to another, we have Chechnya that begat the Boston Marathon tragedy.

What comes next?

Have we lost all ability to stop for even a moment to see what we are doing to ourselves?

Or is it that we never had it?

Or that we're already so far gone in the quick back-and-forth, all blinded by now -- so blind, that we can't see the forest for the trees?