GRE Issue Essay 73

“Most societies do not take their greatest thinkers seriously, even when they claim to admire them.”

It has increasingly been seen that we don’t practice what we preach. There is a lot of difference between words and actions. I agree with the statement that our societies are composed of such people who may admire great people and their ideas but when it comes to their own conduct, they have no guiding principles.

There have been great thinkers, reformers as well as leaders in every society. Due to their noble and reformatory work they have earned a position of repute and respect amongst the members of the society. These people set ideals for mankind with their simple living and high thinking which we should ideally follow. However, these ideals are not forced upon us and it is the will of people to choose their own way of living. When our lives are comfortable and there is no unrest in our society, we choose to follow the path that suits us rather than what is best suited for the benefit of our societies. People are not interested in incorporating good philosophies of great men in their day-to-day lives. Great thinkers are admired but we only expect others to follow their guidelines, leaving ourselves conveniently out of it.

There are many evils in a society. Leaders and reformers like, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Gandhi had devoted their lives to uproot these evils so that we get a healthy and progressive environment. That is why Gandhi had earned the position of the father of the nation. People all over the world respect him and his ideals. We agree with his teachings that non-violence is the best policy and that we should retain our values. However, we conveniently ignore such ideals in our own lives. Contrary to the principles of non-violence, not only is there an increase in the number of crimes in our society, we also do not practice patience in our daily lives. Such examples of indifference towards the preaching of great men are evident in every society.

Another example of a great social worker is that of Mother Teresa. She is known for her concern towards the poor, sick and underprivileged. She has given a definition to humanity, charity and compassion. Even though there are millions who claim to appreciate her, there aren’t many Mother Teresas around. So much so that we even ignore our basic social responsibility of charity. ‘Charity begins at home,’ is a dictum for everyone but ourselves; we do not even bother about the financial well-being of our domestic helps. We are so self-centered and engrossed in our own lives that we seldom practice what we know should be correct. We celebrate the birth and death anniversaries of great men, celebrate the official holidays on such significant days, attend chat shows, hold discussions…we do it all but only for the moment. This shows that the influence of great men on our minds and actions is merely superficial. We ‘claim’ to admire them but do not prove the same in our actions.

What is interesting is that such great men also have their share of criticisms by cynics. There are people who question the financial transactions following the demise of Mother Teresa. Other great men like Gandhi, Nehru, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill etc, who have selflessly served their people are also under attack by some cynics. Such conceited attitude is a reflection of our inability to accept the greatness of such people and in turn to look for opportunities to prove that they are ordinary people who we follow merely because we are under illusion. To add to the irony, many organizations have been formed in their name. Such organizations have all the ideals of such great men in their doctrines, but no trace of the same philosophies in their conduct.

Nonetheless, a section of people adopts the philosophies of great men and lives by their principles. Owing to the work done by such people and organizations, the contributions of great men are not completely forgotten.