The Reptilian Brain on Hyperdrive

Arun D. Jatkar, Monroeville, PA

When my wife and I arrived in the US in 1973, we lived in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was a graduate student at the University of Utah and my wife Shobha was a graduate student at Brigham Young University. A Mormon land through and through. I could write many anecdotes about our experiences while we pursued our PhD degrees, but recent events in the body politic of the USA take my mind elsewhere.

During our four years of living in Salt Lake City, we watched with awe and wonder the narrowly missed impeachment of President Nixon. Such a thing was so much against the very grain of our cultivated reverence for Prime Ministers, Presidents, and many other past and present figures of national importance. It taught us what democracy is all about and we said to ourselves, “If only Indians stopped chanting ‘Indira is India and India is Indira!’”

The year 1976 was the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of the American colonies from England. We were bombarded by the conviction deeply rooted in the American psyche that “the American Constitution is divinely inspired.” In India, the only divinely inspired words are the four Vedas. It was also the time that the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was on its way to being ratified in several states of the USA.

Move forward to 2022. Despite the abundantly proven fact that there is not a grain of truth in ex-President Donald Trump’s irrational and evil claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, he and his allies in the House and the Senate in Congress are unfailingly bent upon bombarding the whole country with that Goebbels-style lie (Goebbels was Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, whose mantra was, “A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth”.) With the ex-President’s continued hold on a vast cross section of Republican voters, the “divinely inspired” constitution is increasingly becoming a sorry victim.

When I look at all this, it makes me think that a nation may land a man on the moon and a robotic explorer on Mars; but its primitive reptilian brain simply refuses to become sophisticated. And right now, that reptilian brain is on hyperdrive!

The landmark Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1973 had remained unshaken until now. But it did not survive the majority opinion of the current Supreme Court. As if that was not cruel and evil enough (see the lead article by Premlata Venkataraman), one of the six justices who ruled to overturn the Roe v. Wade landmark decision of 1973 has further suggested that the Supreme Court should also reconsider several constitutional rights!


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