Imagine a scenario wherein everyone you know, is content with their current state of life, be it the colleague at work or the student at a university. Generally, one would associate these times to be filled with peace, satisfaction and general prosperity. If nobody wants to change anything, everything should be fine; at least that’s what the general notion is, but will reality be that harmonious?
Let us dive back into the pages of history to reflect upon this musing because after all, there is no better critic than Man himself. In the 1920’s a microbiologist named Alexander Fleming discovered an antibiotic substance- Penicillin, that revolutionized the medical industry and dramatically increased the life expectancy of the human race. If it weren’t for Graham Bell, the concept of communicating with people that are miles away via an ingenious device called the telephone, wouldn’t have ever become a reality. Come the latter half of the 20th century, the development of the World Wide Web or the Internet, a commodity that we have become so dependent upon wouldn’t be plausible if it weren’t for the pioneering minds of Robert E Kahn and Vint Cerf. The thought that I am trying to get across is the fact that these were men who were not content with what the society had, rather, they laid emphasis on means with which the society is enriched as a whole.
Stagnation of development is the worst crime that an individual can inflict upon himself and the cumulative effect can have adverse effects on the society. However, setting goals which one can pursue should not be mistaken by that of greed, the latter being a negative trait if in extensive use and can be self-consuming in many situations. Having a desire to achieve and to progress is what makes us a species, capable of self-reasoning, ambition, and rationality- all of these being the perks of having a cognitive ability.
At this point, I would like to raise a question- ‘What exactly is consciousness or what exactly is it that gives a meaning to our lives? Are we simply a simulation of a programmed universe in which our actions and thoughts of free will are all a predetermined algorithm?’ The most convenient way to tackle the whole situation is to assume that we all are merely actors playing our part on the stage of the universe, as was synthesized by Shakespeare. That scenario would imply a lack of willingness to change the course of one’s life, which subsequently leads to the development of a mentality which in turn enables the social hierarchical order in the society to thrive upon, as has been observed throughout the pages of history. Goals, ambition, and desire are entities that will help one push through clutches of the social pretext and will serve as the driving force for individuals to lead better lives in terms of economic prosperity, health, and social relationships.
In the stressful times of today’s world, success has come to the forefront rather than the virtue of being skilled, which is leading to the degradation of the human intellect and the morals of the society as a collective whole. This intellectual drain must be addressed with the same vigor as that of other global issues like that of nuclear armaments, global warming, and unemployment. Influence of role models and people who one looks up to can certainly go a long way in achieving a sense of parity with the declining virtue of ‘self-improvement’ amongst individuals.
To face the brunt of the reality, on a theoretical level, survival is directly proportional to the fitness of the individual on all three fronts- mental, physical and emotional. Thus to quote the words used by the famed author, Rashmi Bansal, ‘STAY HUNGRY, STAY FOOLISH’!