“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
The other day, I was having a discussion with my mother regarding what it means to be ‘truly educated’. Our Government is endeavoring ceaselessly to ensure that no child in the country is deprived of her Right to Education. Primary education has been made free of cost and compulsory for every child. India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States. There seems to be no stone left unturned in improving and developing our education system. Indeed, such facts make us feel gratified and proud of our selves and our nation.
However, as I ponder over the incidences taking place in my vicinity, I’m bound to lament- Where is all this “education” leading us to? Passing examinations, scoring sky-high marks, mugging up the textbook-where is all this leading us?
My thoughts travel back to the words of the Father of our Nation, as he wrote, “Literacy is neither the end of education nor even the beginning. It is only one of the means whereby man and woman can be educated. Literacy in itself is not education.” I couldn’t have agreed more to these words. I remember one of our high school teachers once saying, “You are not going to pin up your report cards on your chest wherever you go.” How true!
Now-a-days, the stereotypical image of a so-called educated person is one with numerous degrees following his name; a good student is one that has cracked the entrance exams with brilliant scores and ranks. Now, undoubtedly, these people are the assets of our nation and of the world. And I admire and dignify all that they have achieved by grace of their hard work.
My point, now, is that amidst our entire obsession for success and fame, and obtaining ranks in exams are we not missing out on some seemingly unimportant, yet, inevitably important values of our personality?
Blinded by fame and wealth, we seem to have entirely dismissed some integral elements from our lives and our being. There seems to be no place for a gentle word of kindness, for embracing our lesser-fortunate brothers and sisters, for bringing a smile on someone’s face or for wiping away their tears. We seem so engrossed within ourselves that we hardly realize the existence of our fellow beings. At times, I feel-how can we disregard the pain and sorrow of someone just like us? Just because we are not going through what they are, should we be so inconsiderate towards them? How can we remain so oblivious to their sufferings?
I believe all of us, at some instance of our lives, have experienced the happiness felt in return of making someone else happy. Our life is like a mirror. All that we give is reflected back to us. As the Bible says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Just give it a thought, how would you have felt if no one offered you a helping hand in times of need? If no one consoled you when you are despairing? Isn’t that intolerably painful?
Maintaining a humble and gentle demeanor, helping a friend in need or passing a smile at someone we come across cost us nothing. In fact, they beautify our character and make us amiable persons. More importantly, they reflect our “education”. No matter how educated we are, if our comportment is not pleasant, all years of learning are sure to go in vain.
These things, when said or written, seem somewhat unimpressive and obvious. And albeit all of us being so familiar with these values, some Satanic wave seems to have swept away all such traits from us. We now seem to live in a kind of trance, where ‘nothing really matters’, except our own personal benefits. If we continue to be trapped in this trance, that foments intolerance and dishonesty, we better cease aspiring for a developed and prosperous world. For a while, we may be prosperous and successful, but, like all things achieved through deceit, even our success will perish.
It is therefore, the duty of every person, every citizen to ensure that they be concerned, not only about their own selves, but also about their lesser-fortunate counterparts. It is high time we revive the basic human values in ourselves and inculcate the same into our coming generations. Let us all learn and practice to respect and dignify the worth of every individual. Let us realize that every human being is the same, and no one is, and should not deem himself to be, superior.
Only preaching these values is not going to help anyway. We need to make it a part of ourselves. A humble, loving demeanor should become a part of our being. Our years of “education” should be reflected through our actions, not just our words. Only then, will “education” be worth it.
Let us begin today, let us begin now. Let us reawaken the values within us, the vanishing traits in us. Trust me, you will feel the difference.