We have talked about Natural Order in the NATURE page. Millions of years of evolution have led nature to appear the way we see it – its diversity – its beauty – the underlying balance and dynamic equilibrium in all things nature nourishes and sustains by adapting to the ever changing conditions and circumstances. Humans are a natural born entity; therefore inherited the same quests for balance and equilibrium – all occurring as fluxes of change in the Wheel of Time – high and low – long and short. But humankind has evolved into an intelligent and rational creature with the ability to improve upon its livelihood by developing tools and methods to live with and exploit nature to its advantage. Therefore while nature provides humans with resources and strengths, we humans are destined to define our own future – we can either make heaven out of hell or hell out of heaven. Responsibility is ours, but things work out well only when social orders are built upon solid foundations. Let us try to understand what all these mean (a metaphorical image credit: anon).
A country’s social order depends on many factors most important of which are its economic system, political and administrative framework, law-and-order definition and enforcement, and the progressive socio-cultural values. The prosperity and peace rely on how rational and progressive these factors are in defining a stable inspiring society. Economic and political systems have elements that could lead a society either to disaster or to prosperity based on what are promoted or pursued: mendacity versus honesty – secrecy versus transparency – authoritarianism versus democracy – exclusion versus inclusion – prejudice versus equity – freedom versus restriction – hypocrisy versus sincerity – hatred versus love and respect. In a democratic society, responsibility lies with the leaders who are entrusted by people to be courageous to lead the society in the right direction. However, there is reciprocity of relationship between people and leaders – which means that good leaders are products of a good citizenry, while reciprocally without good leaders a society could go in the wrong direction.
Something different also happen. Like Mother Earth wakes up to relieve of its stress through an earthquake, so does a society – it gives birth to a social earthquake to release its stress developed by continued repression and discontent. Courageous and dedicated leaders are born to save a society from such disasters, and they are the ones who change the course of history. Human history across cultures is full of such social earthquakes.
Also important are the roles of various media outlets, entertainment programs and advertisements. These outfits have the soft power to slowly transform a society. They can hide behind the Freedom of Expression Acts to cause great damage to the social fabric. People rely on news media to know the truth about matters that affect their well-being and livelihood. If the media is biased, or plays the role of a spokesperson or as a pawn of special interest groups then things could get utterly distorted, confused and mismanaged.
What about the roles of industry and business leaders? These minority wealthy sections of the society wield enormous hidden power than most people could imagine. They mostly hide behind politicians and lawyers, but are most effective in exerting pressure to frame policies and laws in their favor. Since they control most of the wealth in a society, a peaceful social order is impossible without real commitments from these leaders.
How about law-and-order? Is it same as the social order? Social order is much more broad-based, and has deeper effects than law-and-order. Social progress, peace and stability cannot be ensured by law-and-order alone. Perhaps one of the reasons is the difficulty in maintaining a relatively disturbance-free society without compromising civil liberties and privacy. When it comes down to judiciary, the justice is often not defined on actual facts of events, rather on the interpretations of arguments presented by the accuser and the defendant. The complexity of the processes makes it difficult to have a dispute free law-and-order system. If people feel that these processes are flawed and corrupted, society becomes mistrustful and conflict-ridden.
Let us get back to stressing the roles of progressive socio-cultural values, because these social moralities are the foundations on which a society could stand tall defining its singularity. The singularity of cultures exists despite the fact that some fundamental human behaviors and values are ubiquitous irrespective of social and cultural differences. We can think of these fundamentals as the human abilities to distinguish between good and bad, the existence of common human emotions of love and kindness, of anger and hatred, or of expectations of a just system. Why are the cultures distinctly different, despite the fact that common human aspirations are the same?
Perhaps we can think of the answers like these: one commonality among the visionary Greats who contribute to the evolution of social orders is that they learn materials of social relations by observing and studying natural order, and fundamental human behaviors in actions and reactions. But individual understanding and interpretations lead to the differences we see. The understanding and interpretations themselves are the results of background socio-cultural foundations on which the Greats stand.
The second is similar to the arguments I have presented in The Wheel of Life blog. The social order is like a fluid – it takes different shapes in different cultures as does the fluid take shape of the container. It continues to evolve in time in accordance with the advances in ideas, science and technology of that society. While this argument holds in general, in modern times the growing shrinkage of national identities resulting from travel and cyber-world exchange of information is adding to some sorts of social and cultural amalgamation. While the exchange can be good and enriching, a big question looms on every society: how to protect the vulnerable people from the damaging effects of the cyberspace? The answer is not an easy one – but hope that human ingenuity and adaptation-drives will overcome the problem. In the end, those cultures built upon a strong foundation characterized by a cohesive social order of adaptability, motivational discipline, trust and mutual respect are likely to prevail.
When a society becomes mistrustful and conflict-ridden, it is not easy to determine whom to trust. There are many who look for opportunities to cheat, to take advantage of, or to harm trusting innocent people. They could come under different pretexts and disguises. When the problem becomes acute, enhanced social instability can prove disastrous.
Who are these visionary Greats who have sacrificed their comforts and livelihood to define a society? Apart from ancient religious leaders and some past leaders in history, the Greats in modern times have names like Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948), Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968) and Nelson Mandela (1918 - 2013). These leaders have transformed their societies and the world beyond by pursuing courageous non-violent methods to get things done. In the process they saved many lives from being drawn into and devoured by conflicts. It is important that a society looks back to them again and again to get inspired during times of conflicts and crises.
We have talked about life’s equilibrium pursuits in The Wheel of Life blog. How does it work for a society? Social equilibrium starts with an individual’s peace with himself or herself and with the family. The individual peace translates to the peace and harmony in the human-family to which we all belong. This peace is the most essential ingredient to ensure social stability and progress. It translates to understanding others, to unraveling the veils of mistrust, and treating others with respect. World peace and equilibrium are only possible if individual countries are at peace within themselves.
Should Survival of the Fittest define social order? The answer is definitely no. This negative answer implies that as a distinct species separate from other creatures, humans need to pursue a rational social policy of survival. The survival of other creatures revolves around food and mating pursuits – once availed of these things, they become satisfied. Humans, on the other hand are hardly satisfied – they want more and more of everything. If Survival of the Fittest principle governs a human society then it will unleash the insatiable human desire to amass wealth and power at any cost. The drive will end up trampling one another, breaking law-and-order and enhancing conflicts and mistrusts to disastrous consequences.
Well, what I have discussed may sound somewhat idealistic but pursuance of social equilibrium is much more important than to think otherwise. As a society, we depend on one another, and all of us share the responsibilities in defining the society we live in. However, as I have pointed out in The Wheel of Life blog, those who hold other people’s strings tight and strong share the biggest responsibilities than the rest – it only makes sense that they rise to the occasion to do the right thing. Most often things get blindsided by immediate and short-term gains without the realization that unwholesome activities have disastrous long-term effects.
Here is an anecdote to ponder:
The disciple asked, “Please sir could you tell me whether the fundamental human social order is founded upon a just system.”
The master replied, “Do you remember how your parents took care of you while you were little?”
“Yes I do. They took care of me selflessly sacrificing their own comfort.”
“Are you doing the same to your children?”
“Of course, I am.”
“Do you see similar behavior in many other creatures?”
“How do you expect behaviors from others?”
“Nice and just behaviors to feel safe, secure and peace like the days during my childhood.”
The master smiled, “Very good my friend! You have understood the fundamental principles on which a human social order must be founded upon. The expectation is universal and is impregnated into human mind since childhood.”
. . . . .
- by Dr. Dilip K. Barua, 16 June 2016