Thus man, with his mental and material power far outgrowing his moral strength, is like an exaggerated giraffe whose head has suddenly shot up miles away from the rest of him, making normal communication difficult to establish. This greedy head with its huge dental organisation, has been munching all the topmost foliage of the world, but the nourishment is too late in reaching his digestive organs, and his heart is suffering from want of blood.
Of this present disharmony in man’s nature the West seems to have been blissfully unconscious. The enormity of its material success has diverted all its attention towards self-congratulation on its bulk. The optimism of its logic goes on basing the calculations of its good fortune upon the indefinite prolongation of its railway lines towards eternity. It is superficial enough to think that all tomorrows are merely todays, with the repeated addition of twenty four hours. It has no fear of the chasm, which is opening wider everyday, between man’s ever growing storehouses and the emptiness of his hungry humanity.
Logic does not know that, under the lowest bed of endless strata of wealth and comforts, earthquakes are being hatched to restore the balance of the moral world; and one day the gaping gulf of spiritual vacuity will draw into its bottom the store of things that have their eternal love for the dust.
Man in his fullness is not powerful, but perfect. Therefore to turn him into mere power, you have to curtail his soul as much as possible. When we are fully human, we cannot fly at each others throats; our instincts of social life, our traditions of moral ideals stand in the way. If you want me to take to butchering human beings you must break up that wholeness of my humanity through some discipline which makes my will dead, my thoughts numb, my movements automatic, and then from the dissolution of the complex man will come out the abstraction, that destructive force, which has no relation to human truth and therefore can be easily brutal or mechanical.
Take away man from his natural surroundings, from the fullness of his communal life, with all its living associations of beauty and love and social obligations, and you will be able to turn him into so many fragments of a machine for the production of wealth on a gigantic scale. Turn a tree into a log and it will burn for you, but it will never bear living flowers and fruit.
Excerpts from the lectures of Rabindrnath Tagore-1917-1918