Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | The Sunday Guardian | Sep 5, 2021
We are living in a world of corruption. This is a distressing state of affairs, and there are few who do not long to have a corruption-free world. This, without doubt, in itself is a worthy desire, but it can be fulfilled only if the evil is rooted out in the right way. The wrong course of action will not lead us to our goal.
Many people, both political and non-political, are very much taken by the idea of raising their voices against social evils. They think this is the way to go and every day there are multiple examples of their preoccupations. Some hold forth from the stage, some protest on the streets, some organize paidal-yatras (journeys on foot), while others try to get results through the ballot box, and so on. The purpose of all is common, that is, to raise their voices against social and political evils. But here is the problem: such methods have been resorted to for more than half a century, without there being any appreciable outcome. It is like lavishly sowing seed to produce a splendid crop, but getting absolutely no yield in return.
Why have such sustained efforts failed to produce any positive results? The reason is very clear. Social change cannot be brought about by demonstrating on the streets. It is brought about by changing people at the intellectual level. Social change, after all, is an issue not of street activism, but of intellectual activism. The only way, therefore, to effect social change is through education, both formal and informal. This method would appear to be a very long-term one, but according to the law of nature, any result, if it is to be substantial, can be achieved only by giving the matter a great deal of forethought and then planning accordingly. Short-term planning can seldom produce any satisfactory result. And if we follow any other such self-styled method, we shall inevitably fall far short of achieving the desired outcome.
The truth of this is demonstrated by nature. In order to grow a cucumber plant, nature requires only few months. But, for it to grow a full-sized oak tree, it needs more than a century.
Social construction, or nation building, is like growing oak trees, not cucumbers. If we set about this task in the right way, a time will come when nation building will reach a pinnacle of success. However, if we do not adopt the right method, then even after putting in thousands of years of effort, we will not be able to achieve our target.