Machines, for instance, clocks and watches generally run on a system of cogwheels. The movement of one such wheel sets another in motion. If either of the wheels does not mesh with the other, neither will the cogwheel move, nor will the machine be set in motion.
The same applies to human plans in the modern world. There are two “cog-wheels” here as well. And life’s system functions properly only when the two engage and work together in unison.
One wheel in this world is that of man, while the other is that of concomitant circumstances. Here, the individual can be effective only to the extent that external circumstances will permit. Given this state of affairs, wisdom lies in his knowing what is possible and what is not possible for him in terms of his circumstances.
Where interests are in conflict, the actual point at issue is not what should be the settlement from the point of view of justice; the actual solution to be sought in such a situation, is that which is possible in practical terms. That is why, in such instances, one should be willing to accept the possible, instead of engaging in futile hostilities over the issue of ideal justice. Such efforts will lead to nothing but further loss.
The same is the case with nations. Here, too, the leaders should look to what is achievable and what is not in respect of actual circumstances. I have travelled to many parts of the globe and have tried to understand this matter in depth. To me, the degree of success achieved by the individual or the nation is in direct proportion to the effective interlocking of “cog-wheel,” within a broad framework of non-adherence to rigid ideologies.
It was America’s good fortune that it found leaders throughout its history, who were free from the delusions of utopianism. They understood the laws of nature and started their national journey in accordance with these laws. By making steady progress for the last hundred years, America has come to be the foremost power in the world.
This principle of nature, in brief, favours healthy competition. The American leaders granted freedom to their citizens and opened up opportunities to achieve the desired success by proving their capability in a highly competitive field. These leaders limited the Government’ sphere to law and order, thus granting its citizen full freedom on action in other fields. As a result everyone found unhampered opportunities for the optimal development of personal potential.
The American leaders did not attempt to pour society into the mould of a fabricated ideology as the basis for national progress. Instead they looked only at what was naturally sustainable and adopted it.
On the contrary, in the Soviet Union certain theorists clinging to a contrived ideology, attempted to re-structure the whole of society accordingly. When society refused to accept this, the rebels were killed in millions, as if they had no more significance than insects. This scheme of things was against nature and that is why, after a tumultuous struggle spanning over 75 years, it met with total failure.
The same was the case with India and Pakistan. Here too certain leaders devised certain ideologies of their own and wished to re-cast their entire countries in this mould. The attempt to implement this system by force was a total failure. And the precious period of fifty years of freedom was wasted callously.
The Indian and Pakistani leaders should have adopted the same principle as nature adopts with regard to water. When water flows from a mountain peak, it is left free to cascade down the hillsides, meander across the plains, spread out into lakes—in short, follow its own natural course until it reaches the sea.
India and Pakistan should have done the same. Having properly understood actual conditions and circumstances, they should have left society to proceed unhindered on the thoroughfare of nature. In this way an atmosphere of healthy competition would have been produced, and the capabilities of all their citizens would have played their role in the process of progress and development. But this was not to be. Ideological fanaticism produced the logic of coercion, which vitiated everything which came within its orbit.
The right way to proceed in this world is to allow things to take their natural course without placing any obstacles in their path. If any wielder of power conceives of a plan which in his view is superior (whatever its actual merits may be), he should work towards its implementation along peaceful lines, remaining strictly within the sphere of persuasion. He should wait also for the appropriate moment when people’s thinking has changed, so that his plan may be carried into effect, in consonance with the law of nature itself. In that way, its outcome will be beneficial to all.
The actual point worth considering in the building of the social system is not some ideological scheme of things formulated by any particular leader, but what is humanly achievable from the practical standpoint. The part played by any given leader in the overhaul of the social system and, moreover in its subsequent consolidation, is only fifty per cent. The remaining fifty per cent is attributable to external circumstances. If a leader, failing to grasp this reality, is under the misapprehension that the entire country is his personal fiefdom, it would be the gravest blunder on his part to force upon the people his personal ideology. This would be verging on madness, for whatever he then did as a result of his misunderstanding should culminate not in construction but the very opposite.
It is good to be an idealist, but it has to be conceded that the attainment of the ideal in social life is seldom within the realms of the possible. The secret of success in restructuring society is for leaders and followers alike to aim at elevated goals, while taking care to subordinate personal idealism to overarching practicalities.
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan