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The Wonder of Bipolar Human Growth - By Asif Zaidi

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It is interesting to see how our basic biological or psychological needs are linked up with the implementation of Nature’s overall plans to maintain life of mankind in general.

Thus we can regard all human evolution as bipolar because what contributes to the individual growth also contributes to the overall development of human life. We must never forget that human evolution is simultaneously progressing on two levels – one of individual development and the other of collective development of the society’s life as a whole. To me the beauty of life is that if we are true to ourselves then the progressive pursuit of personal objectives seems to contribute effectively to the accomplishment of social aims and ends. There seems a mystifying law at work in the tissues of collective human organism which appropriates the fruits of its individual elements for the development and growth of the life of whole organism. To understand it in simple words, the fruits of action resulting from the biological need to avoid death, disease, or misery benefits, ultimately, the whole humanity. Beyond this come the purposes which rise above the syntax of the basic individual stimulus.

The things around us do not of themselves divulge their significance to us and we must endeavour to discover all that for ourselves. It’s only when we discover the secret that lies locked in the bosom of things that we can attempt to define our purpose in the scheme of things in which our lot is cast. The nature is our teacher in this process. All hope for self-improvement begins with our desire to discover the secret of things and the laws that govern them. The rational faculty that man is gifted with allows him to discover the mysteries of the Universe. Every individual must commit intellectual effort to determine his real place in the scheme of things and transform the world taking into account his ideals. This task is not unrelated to man’s nature or excessive to his toil but is an essential part of life itself.

Living meaningfully entails interpreting one’s environs, including physical entities and communal and historical surroundings in which one finds oneself. With the application of our rational abilities to the issues presented by our environment we manage to gradually discover our right relationship with our external world and shape our convictions about what we ourselves are in the midst of things that surround us. It is by articulating these convictions that we can hope to feel at home and impress a personal pattern on the change that is taking place in the world around us.

This ecology that we live in is for us like his shell is for a snail. It is a blended fibre of many filaments, as our entire heritage –our race, culture and history- represents a minute ledge in the range of human evolution. As that sage Shakespeare explained, the world around us is a stage in which we have to display our talent while playing our part without any say in beginning or the end of the play. The understanding of one’s part is possible only through the gift of vision bestowed upon man. MacNeile Dixon rightly says, “The most astonishing thing about human being is not so much about his intellect and bodily structure, profoundly mysterious as they are. The astonishing and least comprehensible thing about him is his range of vision; his gaze into the infinite distance; his lonely passion for ideas and ideals far removed from his material surroundings and animal activities. The inner truth is that every man is himself a creator, by birth and nature, an artist, an architect and fashioner of worlds.”

It is this capacity for being “the architect and fashioner of worlds” that I feel is his primary task in the world to be achieved. Man’s ability for what he may make of himself depends more on his own effort than anything else. It’s essential to remember the truth of bipolar evolution. For example the individual who is following the urge of his conscious drive to earn his living is also participating in the preservation of mankind. If you think deeply you will realize that all truthful, productive, and decent individual life has a gainful influence on the lives of all fellow-men in his social synthesis.  Shakespeare states it beautifully: “To thy own self be true and then it would follow, as night follows the day, thou canst not be false to anyone else.” There is no clash of interests between an individual’s motivation for his own growth and society’s desire for higher purposes to prevail. Our individual and collective lives have the same focal point, by playing his part well an individual adds to the quality of the society of which he is a part. In my corporate career and observation of business around the world I have seen that the businesses and corporation that thrive in the longer run are those which ensure bipolar growth in all respects. To me a large part of misery of financial institutions in recent times has been wrought by the organizational philosophy that allowed a few so-called star performers to tower above the collective ethos of their organizations. In most instances the same individuals or businesses which were considered far superior to the organization in general and were paid disproportionately brought their organizations down. Absence of a symbiotic bipolar evolution hurts every organism.

The best way for a man to serve the total life is to pursue relentlessly his own individual development to bring out that which is the best in him. Therefore, the value of securing individual life’s development cannot be overrated. The totalitarian systems, like communism, based on the idea that an individual is not an end-in-himself but a means for fusion in the universal benevolence of the state or another assemblage of people are bound to fail. A man cannot be productively herded in disregard to his real place in the scheme of things, which alone brings out the best there is in him. All forms of regimentation and of standardized human existence are bound to eventually shipwreck against the individual dignity and value of man. Man is an artist; he is a reformer; he is a law-giver and he continually strives to invigorate and modernize the society to ensure tidy working and healthy progress of its processes, laws, and institutions. Human society is always in flux and is well-served by a healthy balance of old order and change that helps it move forward in response to the challenges it is posed by changing conditions. This can only be achieved if we are capable of a rational examination of the various possibilities open to us.

Nothing is so decisive for growth as the development of critical faculty in man, which infuses the spirit of free inquiry. For that we must endeavour to liberate the human brain from the burden of custom, ritual, bias, and intolerance, in order to enable man to face life without any prejudices or fixed ideas. In the age we live in nothing attends to the fullness of life except the forces of rational thought. It alone equips us to judge the relative value of things and to do the right thing under a given circumstance. The world today is ruled by thought. The history of development of scientific and intellectual thought of the last three centuries is practically a story of the victory of pure intellect over the primal ways of dealing with the problems posed by our environment. The progress of human knowledge in its contribution to life is now increasingly faster than ever before in the history because of the abundance of refined intellect as an instrument of discovery and innovation and also because we are able to free it from the pressure of immediate existential needs of life. This unburdened surplus of intellect powered by rational thought has carried the constructive enterprise of modern civilization to the heights that may have been unimaginable a few hundred years ago.

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