The world over, students, faculties and/or parents are in revolt, determined to alter their educational systems. Generally speaking, governments and school administrations are willing to make small changes, but not the sweeping ones which will satisfy the opposition. Students For A Democratic Society, for example, which spear-headed the Columbia revolt in New York last spring, has announced itself determined to bring down the existing university structure wholesale—but only in that it represents the entire American competitive-imperialist system. The SDS members have at least recognized the true dimensions of their struggle, although it seems naive of them to have assumed that the U.S. is THE enemy of human rights.
The truth is that each and every organization, regardless of its size or purpose or location, is ultimately brutal, exploitative and oppressive—including SDS itself—unless it can see beyond the limits of material life.
Materialism means not merely unbounded acquisitiveness. It means the acceptance of material Nature as supreme, and therefore assumes that man must work out his destiny within the bounds of Nature. But Nature, as Darwin pointed out, imposes an unpitying competition of her own upon all beings within her grasp. Therefore even the socialist, even the pacifist must kill to prolong his life, must inflict pain on someone or something (like cattle or chickens) to secure his own pleasure.
The dream of a society without competition, in which human beings can develop to their utmost potential, is natural. It is the gravitation of intelligent beings toward spiritual awareness—for spiritual awareness entails relationships of love and happiness, without hatred, envy or deprivation. But such a spiritual awareness cannot be had through submission to the brute force of material Nature. It is only possible—for both individuals and societies—through the understanding of the distinction between spirit and matter, and of the exalted position of the Supreme Spirit, Sri Krishna. This understanding is the fruit of Krishna conscious meditation upon the Holy Names of God: Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
There is something stupendous, something real and gigantic and possibly wonderful waitingin the half-shadows of tomorrow’s dawn for mankind’s young generations. The question is whether the dawn will break in splendor or tragedy, whether the young will carry forward the blight of atheistic ignorance to its awful conclusion in a world of death, or whether they will turn instead to spiritual enlightenment, both glorifying the future and forgiving the past.
As far as their stated endeavors to build something finer and more sane go, we can only applaud and commiserate with SDS and the many similar student activist groups. But to accomplish the reality of a new and just society, we must urge with all sincerity that such revolutionaries add the practice of Krishna Consciousness to their lives and movements. The rejection not only of materialistic social systems, but of the entire scheme of material life, is the real revolution by which the world can hope to see a better day.