WH Auden had said if the Greek civilisation had not exited, we would never have become fully conscious.
How did the universe originate? What is truth? What is reality? What are moral values? What is conscience? Is man forced or free? What is beauty? These are some of the questions that have been asked throughout human history.
The ancient Greeks not only taught us to think, but also to learn to think about our thinking. The Greek lived in a world which they built on the spirit of wisdom. They wanted to make themselves socially better and attractive. Socrates used to say it is true that for philosophy, a topic is worth more than trees, stones or even stars; and what is human mind and what can it be?
Thinking, learning, remembering, knowing, creation of new ideas and conservation of knowledge are the attributes of being human. Freedom, security, food, peace, happiness, abode and pleasure are among the first dreams of man. Man continued to move forward with the help of these dreams. It is because of them that a civilised man was born from a barbarian being. In the beginning, his dreams were crushed by wild animals, and then by barbaric people; but he kept protecting these dreams along as well as himself.
The ancient Greeks knew that human started from a very lower, rather barbaric level. The god Zeus sent Hermes on earth with this order: “Give them the law on my behalf and annihilate those human beings like disease who cannot adopt nobility, good manners and justice.”
The concept was that education and development of human beings is possible through law, and civilisation depends on it because moral and social virtues are common through it. And the birth of a good and better human being becomes possible. Then good and better rulers are provided from among them.
According to Homer, the concept of good and better person depends on four basic characteristics: bravery, chastity, justice and wisdom. There are three schools that influence a man’s life. First, his own home; second, from where he acquires knowledge; and third, his society. Compared to the two other schools, society has the biggest influence on man.
Let us try to examine why the Pakistani society is failing to give birth to good and better humans. Millions of children in our society are born in such homes where they meet filth, hunger, poverty, disease and ignorance from the very first day. Living amid all this, they step on the threshold of consciousness and become symbols of anger and hatred. All of them are neither guilty nor sinners. Their only fault is that they were born in a society that has filled their fortunes with darkness. And that darkness has swallowed them along with their dreams, desires and thoughts.
Right now, the most important concern in front of the world is not how people can stay away from sins. Rather, what change should be brought in the cultural and social system so that people do not die of hunger.
According to Confucius, the state is meant to provide welfare. Economic justice is now the highest moral ideal. Our elite are determined to run the country in a direction opposite to the rest of the world. We are sitting on the brink of a volcano as we have produced hungry and powerless people. A country is stable when their people are strong and prosperous, because an army of hungry and useless people is very dangerous for any country. In fact, we are facing a revenge of problems. We have become so shameless that we are not ready to accept the truth. We have banned thinking in the whole country. New thoughts and new ideas cannot enter the country. The whole society has stagnated. We have been destroyed — politically, socially and economically. There is no glimmer of hope anywhere in the country. There is freedom, but only to hold centuries-old thinking. In these circumstances, a person who is blind to reason can only hope for improvement. If the ancient Greeks would have seen our conditions, they would have lost their mental balance.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2023.
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