‘Modern day Prophets’ educates as well as teaches the people about the intricacies and nuances of the nature around us and our own life. In addition to teaching the manner in which to respond to life, they provide us with frameworks or a set of guidelines empowering us to understand, analyze and evaluate the events occurring around us. As the world evolves, and the knowledge essential to understand it becomes more complex there has been the rise of individuals specializing in a specific domain of science, arts or humanities and with the advent of internet, their messages (good or bad) can be communicated to millions of people across the globe in an instant with the potential to influence them.
All of this makes me wonder and I can’t help but draw comparisons between the prophets of the past and the modern day prophets. I must say that there are some striking similarities between them. Here are a few.
1. Receiving Commandments
According to the religious mythology, the prophets of the past are believed to have received a commandment from god providing them the talent and assigning them the responsibility to educate, teach and inspire the mortal, ‘ordinary’ human beings to a better way of life. Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, and Krishna were given similar orders from ‘someone up above’ urging them to lead a philanthropic and inspirational life. In the same manner, the modern day prophets comprising of professors, philosophers, authors, poets and modern day icons have attained this revered position after developing the talent and accumulating worldly knowledge through their intellectual pursuits or education from the institutes of higher education. These institutions inculcate within them a set of principles and ideals. These ideals then form the basis on which their values and learnings are ought to be gathered, shared, implemented and communicated. Hence, using their skills, knowledge and sometimes pure oratory skills both the modern day prophets and prophets of the past have the capability to influence, guide and educate people.
2. Inspiring People, and Communicating Ideas
Benjamin Franklin once very famously remarked, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing”. As if drawing inspiration from it, the prophets of the past and modern eras have written down their teachings themselves or inspired other people to write for them. As a result, those teachings are permanent. Individuals and societies draw inspiration from it. Bible, Koran, Gita, and even Torah have all left an indelible mark on its followers. In the same manner, the modern day prophets either write down their principles, values, teachings, theories themselves or through their actions they inspire others to write for them.
3. Ambiguous and Inherent Vagueness in Writings
In depth reading of the literature within the category is the inherent vagueness, and ambiguity of the writings. It is argued that these writings have been deliberately kept vague as their aim is not to provide an essential tool kit for actions, rather their aim is to prompt important debates on critical issues, and to be used a mode of thinking. To substantiate this point – Bible, Koran, Gita and in the other category – An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Idea of Justice by Amartya Sen, and Das Kapital by Karl Marx etc. provide the reader the luxury of multiple interpretations and the ability to understand the texts in multiple contexts. Additionally, the literature in both of these categories in addition to being highly insightful, informative and normative is also prophetic in nature. However, it leaves an opportunity for misinterpretation of these texts which can potentially lead to religious radicalism and orthodoxy and the modern day prophets must be careful of that.
How Technology Empowers Modern Day Prophets?
With the advent of communication technologies viz. print media, television and internet has empowered the modern day prophets to gain greater access to audiences spread across geographies and cultures. In fact, everyone can become a modern day prophet now. Internet empowers ‘mortal’ human beings with information and wisdom in addition to the capability to propagate their ideas and influence them. However, with it comes a greater responsibility of promoting the ideas of prosperity, peace, justice, equitable development and spirituality instead of the ideas of hatred, radicalism and violence. Hope the ‘modern day prophets’ understand that to the fullest and use the power of technology to empower the people with appropriate ideas rather than misleading them.
ps. I am not trying to put the intelligentsia of the contemporary world in the same pedestal as the prophets. We must realize that in spite of some striking similarities as pointed out in the article there may exist differences between these groups of individuals.