GRE Issue Essay 217

“A crucial test of character is whether one is able to adapt to changing social conventions without sacrificing one’s principles.”

The character of a person is defined by his principles and moral values. It is these principles that form the basis of every work that a person undertakes, and thus eventually become the guiding principles of his life. However, many times the changing social conventions come in the way of these principles, and a person needs to make a choice. While accepting new changes is a way of remaining up-to-date, it becomes all the more difficult when these social conventions stand in sharp contrast to the principles. I agree that to a certain extent, a person should not forego his principles for social conventions since they define his character; I also am of the view that people should be open to change. Hence, there is no harm in accepting the positive changes and letting go the old conventions and principles that only harm and do not hold good in today’s society.

In the world where culture and values keep changing very soon, it is the principles that a person holds that signify his strength of character. While sometimes it is temptation that makes a person forego his principles, this is also done in order to adjust to the changing world. Whatever the reason, only a strong person can put his principles ahead of his temptations of social requirements. For example, as children grow up and see the world with their own eyes, they are exposed to many evils like smoking, drinking and drugs. At this young age, it is easy to fall prey to these evils, which are only a representation of the changing social values and conventions. It is considered fashionable to smoke and drink. However, if the person is able to hold on to his principles and abstain from these evils, he is able to clear the most difficult test of character.Similarly, our principles tell us to be polite and respectful to all. However, in this disoriented world, there is an increasing trend of being selfish and self-concerned. In such times, it is easy to get affected by peers and by the western culture, which shows little respect to elders, and also demonstrates rude behavior. However, it is only when a person remains unaffected and continues to be concerned as well as polite to elders and youngsters equally that he can be called a man of principles.

However, I also believe that one should have the wisdom of accepting change in the society and change his behavior accordingly when it is appropriate. For this a person must have the capability to read between the lines and see the depth and significance behind the principles that he follows. There is no point in holding on to age-old values that have no meaning today. For example, a family should adjust to the changing social conventions and allow the ladies of the family to work and progress. This could be against the principles of many people who still consider socializing and education of women taboo. Clearly, in today’s world there is no wisdom in such thinking. On the other hand, people must be flexible to adopt

certain changes which are good for them as well as the society.