GRE Issue Essay 94

“Reform is seldom brought about by people who are concerned with their own reputation and social standing. Those who are really in earnest about reforming a government, an educational system, or any other institution must be willing to be viewed with disdain by the rest of the world.”

Every revolution starts with one man, but it takes a long time before this man’s vision acquires acceptance from all social and political entities. The process of carrying out reforms is difficult to undergo and not many people have the strength to stand the test. History stands testimony to the fact that invariably every reformist had to fight his way through the prevalent policies, laws and norms. Such people have often been targeted as terrorists or atheists depending on whether they intended to reform political inadequacies or religious rituals. These people were not bothered about their reputation or social standing or else they would not have been able to fight against all odds and succeed in carrying out reforms. Hence, people who are keen on carrying out reforms are the ones who are willing to be viewed with disdain by the rest of the world.

The intentions of the people who are fighting for reforming either the government or any other system have always been doubted and often there are organized campaigns to malign them. For a leader who is initiating any reform, the entire process is a test of his conviction, character, communication capabilities and courage coupled with his ability to fight the resistance from the rest of the society. Therefore, it is a prerequisite for such a leader to not only remain committed to the intended reform process but also convince more and more people, who are resisting his recommendations, about the likely benefits of his reforms.

The initial phases of a reform process present the toughest ordeal for a reformist and he realizes that he is being targeted socially, politically and financially and there are not many people standing with him. It is during these testing times that great leaders have been born who, with their leadership abilities, were able to sustain such pressures and eventually emerge as winners by being willing to be viewed with contempt by the rest of the world. Take the example of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela who had the support of only that section of society whom they were fighting for. The rest of the world disregarded their intentions and efforts to reform the norms of a society which was divided on the basis of the color of human skin. These leaders were not bothered about their image in the eyes of the rest of the world and they were prepared for the treatment meted out to them in the process of their fighting for reforms.

Whenever a new idea is put forth by someone, it is generally met with stiff resistance from some section of the society. The reasons are varied for the upsurge of this form of resistance. It may be the opposition to the ruling party that is objecting in case the idea has been put forth by the government or it may be a section of the public who stand to lose by the implementation of the new idea. What can one expect if the new idea that has been put forth works around reforming the laid down norms? There is bound to be resistance from the employees of the institution being reformed or from the opposing political parties if the laws of a country are to be reformed. What happens as an end result? The people who had put forth the new idea lose their reputation and in the case of political parties, they lose their vote bank. In such a scenario, it is difficult for people who are conscious about their reputation and social standing to bring about reforms. Therefore, it can be concluded that effective reforms can be brought about by only those people who choose to ignore the fact that they will lose their reputation and a majority of people will view them with disdain.