A bunch of people I know have shared this snippet of a speech APJ Abdul Kalam delivered to the European Parliament at Strasbourg, France in April 2007. Kalam is, for all purposes, India’s Francis Collins – a decent administrator and manager of massive projects, but completely inane in every other respect.[fatuousness overload] [\video]
The speech in question had something to do with enlightened citizens for World peace. The part of the speech that has people fawning all over this video is a quote from a Tamil poet, which the former President of India says (repeatedly) is from ‘in 3000 years back’. It’s ‘ago’! The stupid word you are looking for, Mr. President, is ‘ago’.
The earliest literature in Tamil – Sangam literature – dates from ‘around the 3rd century BCE to the 3rd century CE’ [Wikipedia]. That I quote from Wikipedia isn’t to say that Wikipedia is infallible, of course – here’s Britannica’s page, which says that Tamil literature proper dates earliest from around the 1st century CE – but it does tell me that Abdul Kalam is less concerned with facts than with attempts at profundity. Attempts like this:
Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character.
Where there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the Nation.
When there is order in the Nation, there is peace in the World.
[\end stupid poetry]
Does that sound profound to you? Yoda-ish, perhaps? Compare that to this, from The Phantom Menace, (by when George Lucas had divested himself of all cranial matter): ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.’[yoda] [\yoda]
The problem with independent things, you see, is that any ordering of them seems to make sense: Fear leads to suffering, suffering leads to anger, anger leads to hate. And so forth.
And so it is with the profundity of Adbul Kalam: Can’t peace in the heart lead to peace in the World, which leads to order in every nation, which leads to harmony in every home? My point, then, is this: What the heck does any of this mean? If we all think beautiful, noble thoughts, the World will become all right? This was the President of India, for crying out loud. Should he not have an ounce of gravitas?
The worst part of it is that he seems to earnestly think that he’s being profound, and that people like listening to this fatuous drivel. Okay, he may not have been too far off on that last count.
I wasn’t going to bother with the senile old fellow and his (well-meaning) senility, but the paper I was reading about facultative ammonotely in certain hummingbirds is taking a bit longer to finish than I expected.
Edit (August 2016): If what I’ve said has angered you, has made you want to tell me to fuck off to hell, as it has several people who’ve commented below, see this.