Planting the tree of the nation

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern science. He has made peace and interfaith as the mission of his

The former US President, John F Kennedy, referring to Lyautey, once remarked:

“I once asked my gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for a hundred years. I replied, “In that case there is no time to lose, plant it in the afternoon …” (John F. Kennedy: Chartered Accountant Supplement, New Delhi, 79)

The growth and development of a nation is likewise a lengthy affair, and there has to be a tremendous input at both the individual and national levels before it finally bursts into blossom and finds the position of honour and glory that it merits in world affairs. But whenever any such proposition is put to the people, they are quick to point out that no one can wait for a national policy to mature if it is going to take a hundred years. The only answer to this is: “In that case, we cannot afford to lose even a single moment. We must plant our ‘tree’ this very minute”.

If it takes a mighty tree one hundred years to reach its full stature, whoever wishes to possess such a tree has no option but to tend it for that period. If, instead of nurturing it with care and skill, people come out on to the streets and launch a strike campaign in the name of trees or gather in some open place or march through the streets shouting slogans about it, they will never possess a single tree, far less own an orchard.

Similarly, you cannot own a house by making eloquent speeches about the need for one. It would be the crassest stupidity to do so. Neither can a nation fortify itself by working miracles only in the field of politics. In the rarefied world of poetry, revolutions can occur as a result of a mere play on words. A demagogue can make impassioned speeches and attract great crowds. But real results can be achieved only by long-term planning and continuous dedicated effort. Needless to say, the two great virtues which are indispensable in the struggle for building a nation are patience and fortitude.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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