Hostile Childhood

Howard Fast and his 'New Man'

Anil Chamadia

Howard Fast wrote several stories on Americans' struggle for independence. In one of his stories, 'New Man', there is a sentence where he says a man reared by a wolf becomes a wolf, while a man raised by a baboon becomes a baboon. This is an imaginary story about creation of a new man. This story revolves around those children who were born in the homes of humans, but went to live among wolves and baboons after few months of their birth and started behaving live wolves and baboons. Fast wrote that creation of humans depends on the atmosphere where they live in. And the atmosphere works in totality.

How many children in India have gone to those wolves who conduct racial attacks? How many of them have gone to those baboons who are habituated of making attacks on the basis of religious identities? How many children have gone to those dangerous animals who relish the flesh of castes? Clearly, there is a source in the society from where children, as a part of an experiment, are being supplied to live with animals. In his story, Howard Fast imagines a situation where infants, from across the globe, are collected and an experiment is made to rear them differently from the existing practiced in which they never think of anyone. They all freely carry out the lives of human being. Since they never think of killing anyone, they don't ever mourn their own natural deaths or that of their companions.

What kind of animals American children are being left with and how they, after being grown up, attack like those animals? They become aggressive whenever they see the Blacks. This colour reminds them of the forests of Africa! Like animals they remain immune from the agonies of their race and community. They neither feel that people of their colour also live in the forests of Africa nor they understand an interlinked twist in which colour becomes detrimental when other colours launch attacks on theirs.

In one sees in totality, various kinds of attack are taking place in Indian society. Attacks are made for the sake of religious identity. These attacks are akin to an act where a person tries to establish his superiority by flying the tricolour highest on his rooftop. It is really interesting that a person loves his nation, but doesn't like people of certain colour! He is a human, but hates other humans. It means he just looks like a human among wolves. He plans attacks on the basis of colour and nationality. The atmosphere works in totality. Children are bound to be aggressive, if they are natured in an aggressive atmosphere and lack the atmosphere of love. Some of them will attack like a wolf while others will act like baboons. So far as the reaction of a child towards particular colours, races and signs are concerned, a child will react in similar fashion of an animal with which he lives. For example, a bull is aggressive towards red colour. Obviously, children, living with bulls, will react aggressively towards red colour.

It is pertinent to look at the pattern of attacks in the society. Who possesses aggressive character after all? Are the attacks on African nationals not similar to those on the people of North-East region? If a survey is conducted, one will find same kind of people nursing hatred of equal gravity for North- eastern people and African nationals. Similar aggressive attitude are seen against the tribal of Chhattisgarh that was against the Sikhs in 1984. The attitude was similar in Delhi and Gujarat. The pattern was same in Nirbhaya and Dulina-Gohana cases. Same kind of aggression is seen on the faces who conduct arms training camps and those who launched reservation stir in Haryana. What children, who are being reared in an aggressive atmosphere, would do when they are grown up? It is being increasingly difficult to make them a 'new man' of Howard Fast's dream. Really, the atmosphere works in totality.

The struggle between the making of a 'new man' and converting a person into an animal is nothing but a struggle of making a new atmosphere. Fast, in his story, informs people that the ruling class doesn't like the experiment of making humans. A unique experiment that was free from all narrowness of atmosphere and that gave a person, after his birth, full opportunity and freedom to explore his humanism. The moment a person moves forward to utilise his full potential, the ruler sitting on highest chair of social hierarchy trains gun at him. The person in question kneels down. Then such scared persons are utilised as per the needs of the ruler. Some of them are sent to a training camp–run by wolves. Others are sent to learn the art of attack in the guidance of baboons. One often reads that how certain people, who are termed as fanatics, take children into their fence. But there are a large number of children outside that fence who are not called fanatics but they turn aggressive while playing and roaming in the open field. Equipped with the power of sniffing rats, they raid and ransack of a house. Yes, the atmosphere works in totality.

An aggressive mind is always ready for an attack. It constantly needs fodder. This is why, it is always seen active in the society on this or that pretext. It never sits idle for it is not programmed for sitting idle. Just as mock exercises are conducted for army personnel when there is no actual war. Similarly, reasons are manufactured for aggressive minds if no real or 'legitimate' reasons are available for attacks. Indeed, children are being sent to live with wolves. Definitely, the atmosphere works in totality.

(Anil Chamadia, Edit Mass Media (English) and Jan Media (Hindi). Both are Monthly research Journal published from New Delhi since April 2012. Previously he was faculty with IIMC and Professor of mass communication department in central university MGAHV. Mobile: 9868456745)

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Vol. 52, No. 22, Dec 1 - 7, 2019