The Tokyo Olympics 2020 have been postponed indefinitely because of that wicked little pathogen – the Corona Virus. The irony should not be lost on the world we live in. The Olympic motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius” the Latin words for “Faster, Higher and Stronger,”.
The ancient Greeks held the Olympics from 8 BC to 4 AD. The modern Olympics were founded by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1896. The Olympic flag has five interlinked rings symbolizing the five continents. This was meant to be a symbol of universal solidarity and inter-dependence. Never in his wildest imagination could Coubertin have visualized the “Faster, Stronger, Higher” being brought to its knees by an immeasurably small microbe. This is why it is called Nano Power.
This is destructive nano power. The epitome of constructive nano power is the one who I prefer to call Purushottam (the perfect man). At the end of his earthly life he was told “I have power to release you and power to crucify you” (Jn 19:10) His calm reply while staring at such adversity was “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above” (Jn 19:11). He could say this with such calm confidence because he had earlier said to his disciples that the ruler of this world “has no power on me” (Jn 14:30) because “I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (Jn 10:18).
Notice that all these quotes are from St John’s Gospel. He saw Jesus very differently from the synoptic gospel writers – Mathew, Mark and Luke. But they too have used the word “power” several times. It has been used 134 times in the New Testament.
At the time of the Annunciation when he was incarnated the Angel Gabriel said to Mary that the “Power of the most high will overshadow you” (Lk 1:35). This is what the Synoptics observed about his ministry. “Powers are at work in him” (Mt 14:2). “Power came from him and he healed them all” (Lk 6:19). After he had healed the woman with a haemorrhage it was observed that “power had gone forth from him” (Mk 5:30).
He also passed this power on to his disciples. He did not selfishly hold on to power to build
a personality cult. He gave power and
authority to his twelve disciples (cf Lk 9:1) and to all who believed in him
“he gave power to become children of
God” (Jn 1:12). He assured his disciples that after his Resurrection they would see him in power and glory” (cf Mat 26:24).
Yet Purushottam did not let power go to his head. He was not competing to be faster higher or stronger. He believed in soft or nano power. In his Sermon on the Mount he turned the world’s value system on its head.
He talked of nano power when he said that the
mustard seed was the smallest of all seeds but would grow into the greatest of
shrubs (cf Mat 13:32). This may not make
much sense in India, because the mustard seed here is neither the smallest, nor
the plant the biggest. In India
Purushottam may have given the example of the pipal tree. Its seed is miniscule. It can lodge itself in
the smallest crevice in a mighty rock and grow exponentially with minimum
nourishment. It is powerful enough to
split the rock into two.
This is nano power.
When his disciples asked him who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven he called a small child to himself and said, “Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 18:4). He asserted that “let the greatest among you become as the youngest and the leader as one who serves” (Lk 22:26). That is why St Paul was able to affirm later that “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor 1:27).
Two nano examples from the scientific world would help set at rest any doubts about nano power. The first is nuclear fission when an atom splits into two or more nuclei. This power can be used destructively as with nuclear bombs; or for producing nuclear energy (considered by many as the cheapest and cleanest, but also potentially the most dangerous). Comparisons help us to understand the enormity of this power. The nuclear fission of one kilogram of uranium would be equivalent to burning 400 billion kilograms of coal! Any doubts about nano power?
There is also the as yet unravelled nano mystery – the Higgs Boson, also known as the God Particle. Our powerful telescopes have travelled millions of light years into outer space, but science has not yet been able to isolate the evasive Higgs Boson. A 30 kms circular tunnel called the Large Hadron Collider was built at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland to identify or isolate it. They have not yet succeeded. It is sometimes described as a massless particle. Its weight is 125.18 +/- 0.16 Gev/c2. A competent scientist would be able to tell us how many times smaller than a milligram this is. Its lifespan has been calculated at 1.56 x 10(–22) seconds; that is not divided by 22, but divided by itself 22 times. This why its fleeting life has not yet been captured by scientist. It is infinitely smaller than what we casually call a flash in the pan.
The only Nano that we Indians fleetingly saw was the cheapest car in the world manufactured by Tata Motors with a 624 cc engine and a claimed mileage of 36 kmpl. Unfortunately it flopped in the market because we Indians don’t like anything nano. Be it big fat weddings, or grandiose jubilees, we don’t pull our punches over small things. We abide by the Olympic motto.
Unfortunately, after 2000 years of Purushottam’s coming, his so-called disciples have begun to resemble an Olympiad more that nano power. This is so evident in the pomp and splendour of its celebrations, its huge buildings and various institutions, and even the big SUVs that they purchase. Ever heard of anyone in the hierarchical church buying a small nano car, or even a second hand one, for that matter? Would the minuscule Corona Virus have the last laugh at the cost of the world or the church and it Olympians?
(This is an extract from the writer’s forthcoming book “The Jerusalem Code”.)(Published on 27th April 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 18)