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THE PROBLEMS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION
In one's retrospection of the past ages, one would perceive the rise and fall of many great civilizations, analogous to the rise and fall of the inexorable waves of the sea. These civilizations of antiquity have nourished our modern civilizations with the ingredients which comprised their basic foundations. The ultimate fall of these ancient civilizations has compelled the Homo Sapiens of this age to be conscious of the dangers and obstacles that have to be surmounted in their attempt to decrease the likelihood of the collapse of modern Civilization.
The general tendency of the people of this age is towards a materialistic point of view in whatever they do. They seem only to be interested in the gratification and fulfilment of egoistic desires and aims. The humanitarian outlook which is essential in the upkeep of any civilization is slowly disappearing, being disastrously replaced by the materialistic mode of thinking. This regrettable emphasis in materialism may have been precipitated by the emergence and prevalence of the agnostic trend of thought. But the rise of materialism is a constant threat to this civilization since it can sow seeds of hatred and discord among its people. (From the seeds of materialism, the shoots of greed, selfishness and distrust readily spring). Thus the people of today seem to be addicted to that very evil that can cause the downfall of modern civilization. Indeed we are living in a world of lost values.
Also, the modern human being seems to have an inexplicable liking for ludicrous practices, especially in the case of the fairer sex. The entire feminine sex, though some exceptions are conceded, likes to indulge in fineries and other forms of modern frivolity. Their colourfully "painted" faces and shoes which have heels of unusual heights are typical examples. They sacrifice comfort in order to acquire artificial beauty. The men, too, play no small part in the contribution to modern frivolity, especially those in their teens. Their imitations of the hairstyles of their favourite film stars are grotesque. Of course the visits to hairdressing saloons are very favourable to barbers of today.
This modern world is indeed, a heterogeneous one, opposing ideologies from different schools of thought are boring their way into modern society, especially in places where poverty breeds. In these places, where live the dregs of humanity, the people, through their ignorance and docility, fall easy prey to the preachings of wilful ideologies. These people, after indoctrination, may become potential chauvinists or even jingoists capable of causing chaos and consequently introducing a state of anarchy. As a result a nation's security and peace may be grievously disrupted thus providing a thorn to the nation's progress - towards prosperity.
Modern civilization, viewed at from this angle, is somewhat in a precarious state of equilibrium. One reckless and irrational move by any of the great powers of this earth may ultimately cause the downfall of the modern civilization.
I had made up my mind not to go to the cinema. It was raining and too wet for a drive into town. Yet, I had not the courage to sleep alone for my servant had gone out. The heavy raindrops fell tapping at my window. Occasionally, lightning, like the emaciated and crooked hand of a witch, flashed across the sky. The thunder, rolling across the sky, sounded like the slow, resonant and monotonous drumming of an African funeral. I wondered how my servant would come home in that weather.
Picking up the latest book on the developments of Ray-therapy as a remedy for disorder and adjusting my table-lamp, I settled down on the heavily upholstered couch, not forgetting to keep my pipe, tobacco and my heavy glass ash-tray handy.
I read deep into the night. My eyelids became heavy and while reading I was debating with myself whether 1 should retire for the night or not.
Suddenly, the door of my room burst open, and there stood Mr. Kawfin who looked short, stout and haggard. The hospital clothes he wore were torn, as if after a struggle with something. His hair was dishevelled with blood streaming down his face in little rivulets. From the left side of his temple, a large vein stood out, throbbing vehemently.
His eyes........Oh, my God, his - eyes! They shone with a weird green light! They seemed to be the eyes of Satan, the King of Hell! That diabolical light petrified me. I shook my head and looked up. His mouth was open. His lips were curled into a snarl depicting that of his yellow teeth and pale red gums.
One day they brought him into the mental asylum, his father said to .me, "Doctor, my son is suffering from some kind of mania. He believes that a certain man (he did not mention his name) is out to kill him. He lives in constant fear of death. He often goes into fits during which he just sits and stares ahead of him, murmuring something inaudible".
Just then, Kawfin came up. He clutched at my sleeve.
"Doctor, I am not mad! You hear me? I am not mad," he said in a nervous and tense voice.
Then he sprang back and I heard a sharp intake of his breath as he did so. His face was death-pale. He stood stock still, staring before him. I heard him murmur something, but I could not catch what he was saying.
All this happened on the day he was brought to the asylum. But now, a very different Mr. Kawfin stood at my door. I looked at him again. He moved.
He pushed his head forward. He raised his right hand. It was clenched; clenched round an object which was singularly familiar to me. It was a club which I remembered seeing but could not remember where. His lips began to move. He seemed to say, "Vengeance! Vengeance!"
Then, he charged at me as if he was going to strike me with the club. I leaped up with my ash-tray in my hand. With it, I struck out onto the vein on his left temple again and again. Thud! Thud! Thud! Thud! I seemed to hear thuds but it was a crash that woke me up.
At first, I did not know what had happened. I shook my head and looked around. Everything appeared the same as before I dropped to sleep. I looked down at my hands as I felt a sharp pain. The remains of the broken ash-tray lay in my right hand, which was bleeding. Something told me to go to the telephone and inquire about Mr. Kawfin. But, before I even reached it, it began to ring. I lifted the receiver. It was the matron of the mental asylum. Doctor," she said, "something serious has happened. It is about Mr. Kawfin, sir." "Yes, Yes? What has happened to him?" I asked eagerly.
"Sir," she said, "he...... he has been murdered."
For a few seconds I did not know whether I was standing on my head or on my heels. I quickly recovered, banged the receiver down, got into my motor-car and sped to the asylum. I arrived there in twenty minutes.
When I got down, the matron rushed up to me. She was terribly pale, and looked as though she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She whispered, "The body is in the gymnasium". The body lay on the floor. It was a hideous sight. The hair was matted and torn. The clothes were bathed in blood. His eyes were of a queer green colour. There was a curious mixture of unfathomed horror and cruelty in them. His mouth was wide open. And clenched in his right hand was an Indian Club! It was from the gymnasium.
But another feature stood out prominently on the left side of his temple where I had struck at in my dream. There was a deep gash and blood gushed out of that broken vein.
Was it really Mr. Kawfin whom 1 saw at my door? How did he actually come to have the club I saw him with in my dream? How did he get the wound? This is all a mystery to me. But one thing is certain, he died at the same time as I saw him in my dream.
THE CHANGING EMPHASIS OF EDUCATION
Education may be safely interpreted to mean the operation of all forces that act upon an individual from without to influence the way in which he thinks, feels or behaves. The connotation "from without" is employed so as to exclude any element of inheritance of particular qualities from one's parents and thereby treat education within the confines of environmental forces. This is possible, because Man by nature, has far fewer instinctive tendencies than the lower animals, and therefore the formation of definite patterns of behaviour rnay result. What man feels strongly by inherited tendencies, what he does or the precise way in which his feelings operate into action, depends largely upon what he has been taught - in other words, upon his education - using the term in a wider sense. In a broader meaning, education is a prime condition of human life.
Modern students visualize the value of an Education in the realm of material considerations of securing a good employment or the attainment of a high Social position. Thus, education has lost its deeper significance which it enjoyed during the classical times of history - for instance, during those times when it was taken for granted that the chief aim of Education was the socialization of the individual, that is, the preparation for the full duties of citizenship. Although this conception is not totally forgotten, it does not loom large over the ordinary student of today.
What then should be the correct emphasis in Education? In order to be fit to perform justly, skilfully, magnanimously and with personal satisfaction all the offices of life, our modern attitude of studying sheer facts in order to satisfy examination requirements is not sufficient. The three R's do not constitute Education, any more than a knife, fork and spoon constitute a dinner. The aim of an Educational institution is to give its students a living fund of knowledge from which they may pick and generate ideas. The Education that one should be after is that which will teach one to think and reason and which will improve one's judgement. Education of the right sort, helps us to see things clearly, to distinguish between the essential and the trivial, to maintain frames of mind and systems of thought which will fit us into our places in life. It should stimulate our interest, conjure up new thoughts and enable us to relate problems to a relevant background, assemble pertinent data, grasp relationships and enable us to transfer particulars of knowledge to the intricacies of general living. That is why a literate person capable of reading and writing need not necessarily be an educated person.
The idea that cultivation of mental training of discipline is one of the chief aims of Education plays an important part in the Educational theory. It is often expressed in a popular and epigrammatic form in the assertion that a Man's education consists in what he retains after he has forgotten everything he learnt at school. In this respect, the necessity of memorizing poetry may be explained. Such memorization serves to strengthen the memory and stifles the intellect and that is sufficient justification. Similarly, although a boy may not have the occasion to apply everything he has studied at school, nevertheless they can be useful, for instance, the study of mathematical Science trains one's reasoning powers while Chemistry and Physics may encourage studies of observation. A discipline like history is indispensable in order to understand the past and explain the present. In short, the discipline of school life and studies consists in understanding, appreciation and enquiring, which are all of universal value because these inevitably concern the fundamentally important activities of civilised life.
Since the close of the nineteenth century, a widespread belief has developed in the educational value of spontaneous artistic creativeness in children. Similar theories advanced by the celebrated philosopher Plato in his famous work "The Republic", state that music, painting and the making of useful objects, if made the basis of education, instill into a child a grace and harmony which will give it not merely a noble bearing but also a noble character, not only a graceful body but also a sober mind. As such, a child absorbed in drawing, or music or in any other form of creative activity is receiving the right emphasis in education. This emphasis on the aesthetics as a catalyst for the formation of personality and moulding of character should be specially stressed in our modern world where such cultures seems to be obsolete.
As I have mentioned earlier, the true aims of Education has been transmuted in the modern period to the aggregate of not realising the deeper implication of Education. This is due perhaps to a host of factors, one of which is the general susceptibility of students to follow the trend of the growing materialism of the world. Besides this significant factor, other economic, social and political developments have also taken place. The rapid growth of large manufacturing industries depending upon highly trained specialists have entailed the neglect of the Aesthetic arts and led to a new 'liberal education' - if the use of the term is pardonable. This is obvious, for in complex industrial societies integration and co-ordination is far more difficult than in a primitive society where institutional structure is simple and therefore easily harmonized.
Secondly, the establishment of sovereign national states and the growth of nationalism have led Governments to take increasing responsibilities for the provision of education since they need the loyal and undivided support of their citizens, and consciously, or unconsciously tend to use the schools or other educational institutions to that end. Government influence, like in Japan more than half a century ago, becomes beyond what appears legitimate, developing an aggressive, particularist patriotism which disregards the rights of other nations.
Let us finally remember that Education weaves the fabric that binds the rising generations with those that have gone before. Thus it holds steady and unbroken the course of Civilization. Its aims and methods are shaped by past experience and help in turn to shape future enterprise. Thus the great need for the right emphasis in the investment that pays the best dividend - Education.
INTERNATIONAL SPORTS AND ITS BENEFITS
Nationalism is giving way to Internationalism. This current trend is seen manifested today in several forms. We have the striking illustration of the United Nations, a world forum embracing ninety-nine nations; The Commonwealth, a multi-racial association which cuts across those very dangerous lines of division in the modern world, and various other international institutions, all of which are illustrative of the same theme. This is an inevitable consequence when we think of man as a gregarious species and is no doubt a healthy trend. While the world remains sharply divided between the uncompromising inflexible communist camp on the one hand, the non-communist bloc on the other and the neutral uncommitted nations of the world in between, there is every reason for greater inter national co-operation and mutual friendship to ensure harmony and everlasting peace. But to pave the way to a better understanding among mankind there must be free mingling. International sports is a contributor towards this end.
Quite recently the Seventeenth Olympic Games were held at Rome. It brought together more than 4,200 men and women from 85 nations. These sportsmen should be regarded as the unofficial ambassadors of their respective countries, all come together to promote a greater measure of international friendship. How expressive of this aim they would have been when they marched side by side before that huge crowd in the magnificent white marbled Stadium! The shimmering flags sway under the blazing sun, all diverse in colour and design yet united in such disunity by no paradox, for they jointly represent, in a broad sense, humanity. Consider for a moment the Olympic village where the competitors were housed. In this tiny village, athletes from various countries had the opportunity, the time and even a queer compelling necessity to meet each other, create associations and make friends. There is this inexplicable sentiment that links them.
The promotion of friendship is not the only benefit of International Sports, although such friendship unlocks those great doors which often act as a barrier to human intercourse. One of the implications of a free mingling among young men and women is the knowledge that they invariably bring back. In such an international gathering, we have conscious representatives from practically every country. By mixing freely, we come into direct contact with others and by speaking to them, we can get a reasonable picture and perspective of their countries. We become acquainted with their problems, their customs and their cultures, all of which are vital in order to understand and shape international behaviour. We become even more conscious of the need for co-ordination in a world where determination and courage are the catchwords. International Sports is beneficial because by meeting at one place, we have gone around the world in such a short span of time. Moreover, at the very same time, we have before us everything and this is an experience that one can hardly not respect or forget.
However, the thing that attracts all these various peoples from various countries is the games proper, whether Olympics, Asian or European. This is an occasion for friendly rivalry, a rivalry that ignores colour, race, creed, ideology or politics. Here they compete against one another in the true spirit of sport, and it is no place for pot-hunters. It is the trial of a Nation's sporting capability on an International scale. As such the sportsmen and women find greater national consciousness and need for team work. But it would be erroneous to conclude that this disunites the various teams. Far from it. They are not disunited but united ever more by a rivalry that embodies in it a spirit of friendship. Such friendly rivalry is indubitably healthy for it leads besides to outdoing the rest, to better performances at Sports. After the event is over they are all friends once more, whether the event was a close hundred metres or a rough match. Friendly rivalry leads each Nation to better itself and to equip itself by learning from the rest. And even though a country is unfortunate not to win even a single award, it is a grand experience to participate.
International Sports takes its rightful place among other unifying influences in moulding the people of the earth towards greater international harmony and peaceful coexistence. Through the medium of the thousands of sportsmen in an International Sports event, the world makes itself aware of its singularity and that all Humanity dwells within its confines. "A house divided against itself cannot stand" warns the New Testament. Thinking in such a frame of mind, we cannot help but become more conscious of some of the deeper virtues or philosophies of International Sports, a symbol of the current trend towards the ideals of internationalism - all for one and one for all.
THIS SHORT SPACE ON EARTH
It was windy and cold. The heavy waves were continuously beating against the sides of the harbour. Against this intermittent noise could be heard men, women, children wishing their friends and loved ones good-bye for the last time. The blessings the eyes the tears yes, parting is the hardest thing to bear.
Among those waiting for the arrival of the ship was a poorly clothed young lady. She was alone. She had no one to bid her farewell. No one, for her people and her friends can never bid her farewell. She spoke to no one and no one spoke to her. Why? She was not in a mood for such things.
Time flies. Soon the vessel steamed into the harbour. She was a large one, the type built for long-distance travel. She had come to this port because it was on the way, and because she could pick up more passengers. The would be passengers walked past the gangway and onto the ship. Soon, the up-flow and down-flow of people stopped, it was time to depart. The ship's siren sounded its long, long call.
The people on board and those on land wished each other their final good-byes. As the ship moved off from the harbour, those on board waved as they had never waved before. Everybody waved, including the young lady in rags. To whom is she waving, as she had none to bid her farewell? To her beloved country. As she waved, and as the ship took her farther from her beloved country, her past appeared to her again.
Her life when she was young was full of joy and luxury. Her father was a successful merchant and as such she and her mother, for she had no brothers or sisters, lived pleasant lives.
The pleasantness and joy of living soon began to disappear. The war had come. No trade, no money, no food, no lives - that was War! Oh, God, why must men forever fight? They were reduced to poverty and forced to flee for their lives. Man takes to flight, stops and turns to fight. Her father soon made it his business to fight and to save their country. He organised the local people, got arms for them and trained them to fight. The war raged on. The countryside lost its beauty, trenches were dug, trees were felled for impeding the progress of the enemy. It was for his daughter's safety that her father decided to send her south, where human blood has not yet stained the soil. That was the fast she saw of her father and mother. They died serving their country - she was proud of them.
On her way she met a youth, a close friend of hers at school. He accompanied her as far south as he could. She liked him at school, and she still liked him as much, if not more. At such times a friend was indeed a friend. Mid-journey they parted company, one north to the war, the other south. Each bore a love for the other and each prayed for the other's safety. A few days later she was given a letter and was told that he had died, in battle with bullets through him. Must life be so cheap, must there always be a war? Must one see a friend one day, to miss him forever another? Such were her thoughts as she opened the letter, found on his dead body.
"Dear it is now that we part from each other's sight. Do not cry for we will meet again in God's land. Meanwhile, live and help men to live. I will always remember you."
Such was the short letter.
Must one lose one's parents, then friends, and relatives? Must the hand of fate never stop to strike? Must men forever fight? Must war never stop? Must dear ones be taken away? Were women made to bear sorrow? Was she made for sorrow? Must there be no happiness in life? Oh God, why life? Why? Why? Oh, yes to live and help fellow men to live !
The wandering of her mind stopped abruptly. Her native land was out of sight. She must never look back. She must look ahead. Ahead, for a happier land! Onward, the land is bright!
THE ASIAN OUTLOOK ON LIFE
The general view that the West is materialistic in outlook although professing religious values and the East is spiritualistic is not countenanced by the facts. The Easterner is as much of a materialist as the Westerner. He is as concerned with making a place for himself in society, as anxious in getting on successfully in this world, and as avid of possessions as the Westerner.
Owing to advanced technology, the West has been able to satisfy its desire for material progress and advancement and to attain a higher standard of living than the East. In all matters affecting their daily life and personal interest they are coldly realistic and materialistic and have no scruples in casting aside religious ideals and spiritual maxims propounded by their Prophet, Christ, which they all pay lip-service to and show outward observance of, by attending church perfunctorily. The high ideals of their founder are regarded as impracticable and restrictive of individuality. In the conflict between egoistic desires and spiritual values, the latter is brusquely pushed to the wall. Materialistic success and progress has imbued them with such self-esteem and vanity that whatever conflicts with their selfish materialistic views and policies are regarded as Utopian and of account. Success in the grossest materialistic sense has been so easily achieved owing to advanced technology that they completely ignore the basic teachings of their religion, Christianity, regarding, love, charity, humility, tolerance and goodwill. Although they dare not be so profane as to claim equality with "God" or to be "Gods" themselves, their day to day behaviour reveals to an intelligent and impartial observer an implication that it is they who guide the affairs of the World, and that their will is the will of God.
Asians, too, are no less materialistic and realistic as the Westerners. They, too, disregard spiritual values and religious principles in the merciless competition of life. Their capitalists and empire-builders have been as ruthless, uncompromising and unscrupulous as Western ones and no less cruel. However, in the East, material success is available only to a small number of people as material goods are not produced in abundance on account of the lack of technical "knowhow", and any increase in production is negated by an alarming increase in population. Thus Easterners are not so confident of themselves, and their ability to effect as high a standard of material success as the 'Westerners. Grinding poverty, malnutrition and disease make the lot of a vast majority of Asians so miserable that they are always aware of the existence of forces which hamper and obstruct their desire for material progress and advancement and which they cannot cope with. As a result, they acquire a pessimistic, self-derogatory and rationalising mentality. If they fail it is not they themselves who are to blame but Kismet, Karma, Allah, Brahama, or any of the deities they worship and idolise in their fear and ignorance. Even if they are converted to Christianity, their attitude towards their Creator and God is still cringing and cowardly. Hardship and frustration make many of them find consolation in another worldly conception of life; they hope to find their reward in the next world in compensation for their hard lot and misery in this. Rationalising this attitude, they claim to be religious and spiritual and idealistic. Envy of the materialistic success, achievements and progress of Western nations make them deride Westerners for their gross materialism and neglect of spiritual values. If they could make use of the "know-how" of the Western world to achieve material success for a greater number of their people as the Western nations have done, they would become just as avaricious for possessions, just as mundane and materialistic, and less ready to boast of their spirituality and religiosity. This is clearly proved in the case of Japan, the only Asian country that has been able to absorb, improve upon and apply Western technological skill to enhance their material prosperity and welfare. The history of Japan in the decades after she modernized herself up to the Second World War shows how ruthless insatiably ambitious and cock-sure she could be until defeat humiliated and to a certain extent humbled her. Her capitalists were as unscrupulous and ruthless as Western ones were before trade unionism and political legislation curbed their unrestrained operations and unlicensed go-getting.
In the past the Asian outlook on life was inwards and other worldly. In the future when the application and adaptation of science to industrial progress will be able to provide them with a higher standard of living and enable them to enjoy more of the amenities of the West, they will become as practical, realistic, and materialistic as the Western World; they will become unworldly, prosaic, bumptious and conceited as those in the Western World. What price success?
ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE
"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players"; a view of a great poet on Man's brief physical existence on earth, to be described further in a tableau of seven scenes. But is it only our mortal being that is reflected in Shakespeares' poetry? Perhaps that little word 'merely' is not over-emphasized if we should take it as denoting that particular class of 'players' who lack an insight into the roles they play and hence just take their cue, rattle off their lines and vacate the stage without leaving any impressions to their credit, with the audience. This might be taken as an analogy to the stage of Life. Some people are indeed MERELY players in their lifetime and vacate the stage without wading into the murky depths of their roles, the meaning of their Lives, and of the meaning of Truth. Joseph Conrad (in The Secret Agent) gives of this class of people, two examples. The very well off and the very poorly off. The former have a false sense of well being and security and who are slaves of 'all that glitters' but who are really mentally impoverished where the question of Life's meaning is concerned. The latter are too much given to the needs of material life to have any leisure for abstract thoughts.
But what is the Meaning of Life and Truth? Pleasure, say some like Omar Khayyam, pleasure and the present, are reflected in his lines:
'Ah fill the Cup --- what boots it to repeat How Time is slipping underneath our feet; Unborn Tomorrow and dead Yesterday, Why fret about them if To-day be sweet!'
Others regard Life as a novitiate for a better spiritual life ahead. Still others have their various inclinations. The meaning of Truth is after all relative to one's trend of thought and interpretation.
Why then search for the Meaning of Life and Truth, ourselves, when it is seen that there can never be a universally agreed formula. In addition, many false tracks await any who try to seek Life's secret. The reason here proposed for giving thought to the question of Life and Truth is because we Live and with us as with all other living, things, there is an inherent urge to struggle for survival. This seeming paradox is but simply answered. Why will a person do his utmost to preserve his Life before almost anything else? Why the 'sudden' urge to live a Life which we do not try to understand, when faced with dangers? If these questions you have answered to your own satisfaction, you would have answered part of the question of Life according to your own interpretation for they are all akin. Why not proceed further to gain the entire of the big, burning question of Life, Life to which all else can be given up, before learning such comparatively insignificant things as Columbus discovered America or that we are made up of multitudes of tiny particles. As Omar Khayyam (to quote again) puts it,
'And many Knots unravel'd by the Road, But not the Master-Knot of Human Fate…'
But still, why not have a go at it?
THE THIRD WORLD WAR
He awoke, as if from a fearful, incredible dream. "No," he told himself, "it is too realistic to be a dream. The thunderous explosion, the bright and sudden flare and then the whole world was plunged into darkness - all this is too realistic to be a dream." He struggled to seat himself as comfortably as he could by sitting on the ground and leaning against a huge fragment of what was formerly a part of the wall of a mansion, feeling a sharp pain all over his body as he did so.
He rubbed and dilated his eyes vigorously in attempts to rid the blur off his eyes. Then, still vigorously he attempted to rid the blur off his eyes. With still bleary eyes, he scanned the whole place around him as a feeling of great sorrow and grief surged into him. Yes, he was indeed appalled by the ghastly sight - of dilapidated buildings, mutilated bodies, and many other things in chaotic conditions. Shaking his head in great sorrow, he clasped his hands over his eyes to shut off the ghastly sight. Having cowered in shame at the thought of the results of the folly and rash actions of his fellow-men, he shut his eyes again and fell into deep and silent thoughts….
"Man! Man!" he talked to himself. "If even the terrors of the Second World War have failed to instill in you a strong feeling of hatred and fear of war that you may lay down forever all your arms, then this, the Third World War, will certainly have done so, for you have experienced all the horrors and evils of war but not the deadliness, bitterness and destruction of this great lesson too late, for this war may have caused the annihilation of mankind." He heaved a deep sigh and carried on his reflections.
"Oh, man, is it by instinct that you are led to thrash out your differences in the battlefield? Why can't you settle your differences by peaceful means, so that peace for which you have so deeply craved, prevails. Yes, man has been yearning for long - lasting peace on earth for centuries, and it is indeed funny to think that he should be unsuccessful when it is at his will whether to have peace or war!"
He opened his eyes and at the same time murmured, "The human race is a race of imbeciles."
Suddenly, with his mouth twisted as if in great agony, his hands clutched at his heart, while his muscles stiffened and then his breathing ceased! He was C..0..L..D!
So there he lay, cold and stiff, making the annihilation of mankind another man faster!
ON FACING THE WORLD
The young man who lives at home does not realise how little he knows about the cruel world until he leaves permanently its protective shelter. He has no idea of the difficulties that face the wage-earner and the man of the world. Thus it is often that ignorant youths create plans for rosy futures, without any allowance for the hardships that they will encounter.
It is a human characteristic to crave for things not within reach. The young student hopefully visualizes the sweetness of freedom - the day when he will be free from restrictions imposed by his parents. When relieved of these restrictions he comes across novel, perplexing problems. He has to adjust himself to an environment very different from his previous surroundings. He finds he has to make his own decisions without relying on the solid advice of his parents. He hesitates because he is afraid of the new responsibilities which he now holds. He realizes that he is alone in the world, among strangers who, having their own problems to solve, are too occupied to inquire into his difficulties. For the first time in his life he has to do everything for himself. He is compelled to appreciate the newly-gained independence. Not only is he subjected to problems of his new life outside (his job or his studies) but he has also to face the many minor hardships in his new abode. He discovers he has to look after his clothes, organise his private life and make his own friends.
Never before has he been in the presence of total strangers and in such numbers. He discovers that people with benevolent natures, kind dispositions and altruistic attitudes are few and far between. He comes across individuals who are never hesitant in criticising all his actions, who derive pleasure in inflicting discomfort and who would willingly associate evil intentions with his innocent attempts at cultivating friendship. Then there are the hours of loneliness when he longs for those he has left behind because he is in the midst of people who do not understand him and are thus indifferent to his suffering. His self-respect suffers a great decline when he is subjected to this indifference.
The youngster from home soon discovers that the world is full of people who observe many stupid formalities because convention and obligation dictate to them to do so. These soon serve as a pressing problem which the youngster from home finds difficulty in facing at first. He learns to be diplomatic in his actions, to say things to please, to perform actions and to shower praises on people and things which hold not the least interest for him. He gradually takes to doing many things contrary to his own wishes. For the first time he begins to behave in accordance with public opinion. Lest he be singled out as a social snob, he attends parties and participates in discussions that are a bore to him. He acquires several new habits - he drinks, and smokes in order that he can join in the "fun" of his new and immediate acquaintances.
When one leaves home one casts behind many valuable privileges. One loses the freedom of unrestrained self-expression, but the opportunities created for cultivating independence and shouldering responsibilities are invaluable. The youngster just entering the world soon learns to balance his own budget. If he has not already realised it, the great importance of money begins to impress upon his innocent mind. As he adjusts himself to his new way of life, he cultivates a routine which permits him to act through volition and to live within his means. I do not suggest that every youth who enters into the wide world treats the vast opportunities thrown open to him in the same way. Further, not all manage to make good of themselves. The first few months of a person's sojourn on his leaving home determine and condition all that he will make out of himself later on. Many who fail to appreciate and utilize their opportunities wisely suffer maladjustment and end up eventually by making a mess of themselves.
The emotionally-matured finds little difficulty in getting along with the new people. He is familiar with the problems that torment each and everyone of us. He knows when to ask for help, when to help others and when to restrain himself. He controls his emotions and is capable of looking upon himself and others objectively. Hence he can discern right from wrong, and is equal to any situation that may present itself. It is to those who have not been subjected to varying situations, who have not learnt to control their emotions and to look upon things objectively, that facing the world is difficult. Such a person will experience many unhappy hours trying to stand up to the criticisms he is sure to receive, for his slightest mistake, harmless though it may be, will not be allowed to go unobserved without injurious deprecating remarks. In the case of girls, they will be subjected to gossips. Whatever innocent actions they may take will be made (in their absence) the topic of tea-time discussions among their so-called friends.
We must not, however, conclude that facing the world is a very difficult task for all. To some, who have been taught to cope with similar problems, it will be but an opportunity to put into practice what they have acquired. To others it will appear physically impossible. Yet the sense of responsibility and of independence one acquires in facing up to these difficulties is beneficial. Nowhere else in the home can the young student learn to live independently; nowhere else is he provided with this chance to look after himself, and nowhere else is he given this opportunity to do everything for himself. When he comes into the world he realises that his childhood belief of absolute freedom of the adult is fallacious.
NECESSITY - THE BASIS OF PROGRESS
The same idea is echoed in the proverb, "Necessity is the mother of invention". The progress of man has falsely been attributed to his own initiative and personal will. The rapid advance towards enlightenment and refinement has tended to conceal certain basic realities which underlie man's evolutionary expansion. Man is taken to be a willing animal, engaged in purposive activities and to be endowed with such qualities as enthusiasm, energy, zeal and will-power. But a philosophical consideration will reveal that the achievement of progress is not a deliberate step on the part of man and that throughout man's history the main motive which has driven him so successfully on the road of progress is necessity. Necessity acts both as an impelling force and as a guide, ensuring that progress is continuous and proceeding in the positive direction, that is evolving and not devolving.
It is in man's inherent nature to oppose any change and to dwell in satisfaction and on past successes. The fulfilment of a purpose and the achievement of an aim overshadow the conscious mind thus preventing it from reflecting beyond the present. The consequence is the inertia of all energy and human character relapses into indolence, inactivity and laziness. Any proposals for change do not appeal to the mind, which thus produces no responses to awaken and energise the dormant spirit.
To live is the sole purpose of man on this earth. This purely basic aim is natural and inborn in man; for this reason the mind is not conscious of it and all activities towards its achievement are not based on set plans with premeditation. The human mind is constantly seeking to free itself from overbearing thought and worries and to achieve a state of tranquility. Accordingly, to live is to acquire the stage of sufficiency where gratification of the soul and of the mind and alleviation from pain, hunger and thirst, are realised. '
Necessity is the power of circumstances, which imposes an irresistible law, governing all human activities. Within the light of this meaning, all those factors, such as pain, thirst, hunger which harass the mind with anxiety, are the real forces of necessity. But these are only the basic ones, and employing reason, the elimination of these and the subsequent achievement of a state of sufficiency would have ended human progress. For more important are the environmental forces. The changing fortunes of nature, danger, deficiency, contrasts and differences of conditions play a greater part in impelling man towards progress. Nevertheless both the basic and the environmental forces of necessity combine together to burden the mind with anxiety, worry, interest and curiosity.
The mind receiving these impulses responds by awakening the hitherto dormant body. The inertia of energy is broken and the efforts are from then on directed from the central control, towards achieving another stage of tranquility of the mind. Step by step in this manner, human progress proceeds, first the mind is effected and then the body reacts. Man is instigated and pushed under the constraining law of necessity he toils, struggles, suffers, probes, braving all dangers and difficulties.
A careful survey would justify the claim that progress is really the crowning result of necessity. It was necessity that drove the American pioneer and the Chinese immigrant to thrive so successfully on the road of progress. Necessity helped the sons of many poor and lowly men to success, while the absence of necessity or the lesser force in which it appears caused the sons of wealthy men to remain backward and indolent. There are people today who to gain the reputation of their race, enforce progress on their fellowmen, by training them in trade and by opening up factories and cooperative shops. This is "mock progress', being only a show and not necessity which is the vital factor in man's existence and evolutionary advancement shall always be the mother to progress as the proverb, "Necessity is the mother of invention".
Last update on 21 November 1999.
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