Man, according to his inborn qualities, is a complete human being. But at the same time, he depends upon two foreign influences: nature and society. From one major point of view, man depends completely upon nature. Water, sunlight, oxygen, food, all parts of the life-support system, are supplied by nature. Man cannot afford to dissociate himself from these natural resources. Here dissociation would mean self-destruction.
The same is true of man’s relationship with society. It is said that man is a social animal, not simply in the sense that man lives in a society but, more explicitly, that man completely depends upon society. From personality development to civilizational progress, everything depends on society. Here also dissociation from society would mean self-destruction.
Some people develop a kind of individualism. This kind of individualism may appear to be a beautiful idea but, in the practical sense, it is not advantageous. No individual can afford to live just for himself in this way. This is like self-existence, and self-existence is purely an attribute of God.
No individual can separate himself from society. Every individual is a part of society and it would be ill-advised of anyone to go against it. But, if society is corrupt, then one can dissociate oneself from it on these grounds. But this aspect of social existence accounts for hardly one per cent; the other 99 per cent is not objectionable. Thus, we are seldom obliged to dissociate ourselves from society. If one’s temperament is out of the ordinary, one must mould oneself according to society. It is not society’s concern to change itself to suit an individual. Each individual must attune himself to the norms of society. No one can afford to indulge in individualism.
The problem is that everyone is born as Mr. Different and Ms. Different. It is this birth right feature that creates the problem. When people try to live together in society, they feel again and again that they are living in a world of differences. Every difference is like a challenge. So, living in a society means living with constant challenges. This perturbs people and they become individualists. But this kind of individualism is little more than escapism. It is a fact that escapism is not a workable option for anyone, be it a man or a woman. Then, difference is not an evil. In terms of results, it is a boon. It is a natural gift to mankind.
There is a well-known saying that when everyone thinks alike, no one thinks very much. So, difference means diversity. It means that man is not like a single tree in this world. He is part of a big garden. The difference in trees only enhances the beauty of the garden. Without this variety, the garden would be colourless. In fact, difference gives every human being great advantages. Difference activates people’s minds, compelling them to think more and more. Difference creates an intellectual challenge. Intellectual challenge leads to discussion, and discussion and dialogue result in all kinds of progress.
Individual living means living in a limited sphere and as such is a constant obstacle to future development. Individual living deprives one of interactive learning, greater experience, and the opportunity to learn lessons. It is like living in a cocoon. This kind of living is correct for the larva living in a cocoon but not for man. Man cannot afford to live in a cocoon. For the larva living in a cocoon, it is a life but, for man, it is no less than death.
Social living means living through experiences, meeting challenges, learning lessons, teaching and learning. Society is like a living university. One who tries to go against society will commit social destruction. No one can afford to opt for either natural destruction or social destruction. Therefore, complaint is a futile exercise, whether against nature or against society. We have to adjust with both nature and society.
In this way adjustment is the only possible formula. Adjustment means to not complain, to not try to change others, to not become negative, to not take the situation as an obstacle, but to manage it smoothly. Adjustment is the only key to all kinds of success in life.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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