What to do? (Part 2)
The Light (Pakistan), 16th February 1923 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 4, pp. 2–3)
Life is a game — a game at once complex and interesting. In fact, it is its ups and downs, its snares and pitfalls, its mazes and labyrinths that go to make this life what it is. In its complexity lies its charm, in its mystery, its romance. But alas! how few of us take it as such — at its true worth!
How to play this game of life, it is no pretension of mine to say. It is perhaps for those to answer the question, if for any at all, who have played the game themselves. All I must say — and any assertion is based on what I have been able to glean from the footprints of such as scored success in their day — is: Play the game yourself.
Be not as “dumb driven cattle.” Be the hero of this drama of your life. Enter the lists with this self-conscious dignity and, take it from me, the battle is already half won. Stumble you may, fall you may, fail you may, faint you may; come whatever it may, fight it out you must, and by yourself.
To my mind, it is this lack of true outlook on life more than anything else that has acted as a mildew to blast the Muslim’s virility. He views this life from all sorts of angles except one, the only true one — viz. that life is a strife, a struggle, a game, and he’s its hero. It is just this change of perspective, the adjustment of true attitude towards life, that is needed.
We send our children to schools, stuff their brains with all sorts of things. They cram book after book, pass examination after examination. What we do not give them and what they do not acquire is just the thing they want most — the sense of a personal role that awaits each one on the stage of life. The personal element which should be the aim of all true culture to foster — that sacred spark of self-consciousness — is crushed under the weight of examinations made heavier by the schoolmaster’s birch. That noblest of arts — education — which could best ignite this spark of life in the young soul at that tender age has been degenerated into a soul-killing machine. The schoolmaster — and I have been one myself — is himself in ninety-nine out of a hundred cases incapable of a loftier and truer view of life. He is a product of the self-same system — a chip of the same block. What could he impart to the youths entrusted to his care?
Come up to the university stage and you find the same tale, retold only in different terms. There you meet “professors,” but in the majority of cases they are the same pedagogues magnified. The school expands into the college, but that is all. The same old, old routine is there, calculated, one might say, with the purpose to choke and suppress the last spark of life. The “professor” vomits certain things, and he calls it knowledge; the pupil gulps them down. So goes the grinding-mill of our education, and as round and round it goes, it squeezes whatever juice of manliness it finds out of our youths. Of real education, of real culture, which means, first and last, self-awakening, there is none.
Our educational system, however, is not the sole agency for soul crushing. Take any phase of our life — social, economic, political — and you find there some nightmare or other weighing upon the soul of the people. Nay, even that heavenly institution — religion — whose one aim is to rejuvenate and revivify, has for all practical purposes become a deadweight on the free, unrestricted play of the soul. To this I propose addressing myself in my next article.
The root cause of all our ailments, let me say, is our slave-mentality. Let, therefore, this be the slogan of our battle of freedom: Emancipate the soul!
[Read the next part: ‘Part 3‘]