What might be good for you may not be good for your nation, and what might be good for your nation, may not be good for humanity. What is good for today, may not be good for tomorrow, but may be good for day after, and again a disaster for the day- day-after.
Thinkers, scientists, innovators and inventors may create something with a noble intention. But crooked minds traversing mother earth may hijack it for sinister motives. To come to think of it, inventions leave a legacy behind. Where, some may turn out to be the serenades of life, while some the hounding baggage, difficult to carry.
When Sir Alexander Fleming, Scottish biologist and botanist discovered Penicillin in 1928, he shared the Nobel Prize for Medicine the same year. Penicillin later developed into antibiotics used for killing microorganisms; and since then it has saved many lives and has reduced the agony of so many sick people. Fleming therefore must have left the world with pleasant memories about his invention.
Realising what he had created—Dynamite! A high intensity explosive that could have been a bane for the society. Alfred Nobel bequeathed his fortune to institute the Nobel Prize for noble causes. Perhaps, he could visualise in his lifetime the ominous calamity that could be struck with dynamite that he had invented. And to offset that he instituted this prestigious award.
While Eadweard Muybridge commonly referred as the ‘father of the motion picture’ must have exited the world with pleasant memories. The same can’t be said about Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov the inventor of AK-47 assault rifle, even when he invented it for his country. He was born to a peasant woman and was an Orthodox Christian. He rose to be a Russian General with sterling innovative attributes, but on hindsight his inventions appear to be for the wrong causes.
Approximately 100 million AK-47 assault rifles were produced by 2009, and about half of them are counterfeit, manufactured at a rate of about a million a year. Kalashnikov maintained in his lifetime, that his rifle was a ‘weapon for defense and not a weapon of offence.’ Yet countless unwarranted killings must have taken place through this invention.
Kalashnikov claimed he was always motivated by service to his nation than money. But then, what was once good for the nation could have been used by myriads of terrorists in illegal and dreadful killings.
In the final years of his life he was saddened and anguished over his awry responsibility for the millions of deaths that his invention caused, reveals his published letter to the head of the Russian Church.
In his various public interviews, Kalashiikov who died at the age of 94 insisted that he created the AK-47 assault rifle and dozens of other firearms as a means to protect his country, and rejected the responsibility for killings, perpetrated by militants and terrorists using his weapons.
“My soul ache is unbearable and has one irresolvable question: if my rifle took lives, does it mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, aged 93, a peasant woman’s son, an Orthodox Christian in faith, is guilty of those people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?” the leaked letter reads. He wrote the letter sometime before his death.
Even when he was baptized as a child, he spent most of his life as an atheist, living in an officially atheist country. It was only at the age of 91 that he felt the call of faith and answered. And as he was approaching the end of his life some doubts lingered in his mind. That perhaps, through his invention he gave a chance to millions of miscreants … to massacre innocents.
Surely, inventions do leave a legacy behind, and some legacies are insurmountable for the soul. But sadly the inventor only realizes this when its too late and when he is at the twilight of his life.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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