On Being Human

I do believe that God designed and created humans – as he did the rest of the creation- and gave them life to live. Once born, the humans were allowed to fend for themselves and live life as they chose, with divine guidance no longer available. From there began the unguided journey of the human race to live and face life.

God must have reckoned that being of the same species, humans will treat each other humanely. Of course not all men were created equal in every sense in that some were physically stronger than others and some had sharper minds. Such differentiation was obviously necessary so that the variety of tasks that life presented could be tackled by those with matching capabilities to the overall advantage of all humans However, the proclivity to put self first – ingrained in humans as a survival kit – over-rode other nobler instincts and instead of complementing each other’s capabilities for common good, the stronger and sharper ones began taking advantage of their own strengths to corner the available goodies for and exposing the weaker ones to deprivation and consequent suffering.

The exploitation of man by man has continued for millennia and continues till date in some form or the other. We have had slavery in various parts of the world, caste systems in other parts and other forms of exploitation. As civilization progressed in the world and thinking and sensitive people began raising their voices against the inhuman practice of direct exploitation of man by man, movements against such exploitation took roots and grew stronger over time. So much so that we can take pride in existence of less of such exploitative practices in today’s society though exploitation does continue even today in other apparently less cruel forms.

The progressing civilization has seen the development of society and governments of various denominations e.g. autocracies, oligarchies,dictatorships, limited democracies, democracies etc.). Whatever the form of government, it makes attainment of social objectives on a wider scale feasible. Fight against exploitative practices of the kind mentioned above was particularly vigorously pursued by governments of progressive nature formed with peoples’ approval and participation like democracies.

Though much may be claimed to have been achieved in reducing exploitation, the ultimate objective of all men being treated as equally human still remains elusive. In some developing countries like India,for example, millions even today live sub-human lives in utter poverty in slums and unorganized settlements, even road-sides, exposed to all kinds of diseases and deprivations. The cause may not be direct exploitation of man by man as in case of slavery or caste system, but social apathy and baser human instincts like “self first” remain at work.

Due basically to the baser human instincts like selfishness being at work, newer forms of exploitation have developed like illogical wage structures, inexplicably wide gaps between high and low wages, forced unemployment due to lack of work (which is not compensated in most countries) etc. The minimum wages in India, for example,even in organised sectors, are so low that they cannot even cover all of the most basic needs like shelter, nutritious food,children’s education,health care etc. They are more like sustenance wages. Wages in unorganized sectors are mere pittance. On the other hand wages or compensations at the highest level are sky high
without any relation to the wages at the lowest levels. All this certainly suggests that some humans are more human and even super-human. In my opinion, living in super-abundance in the midst of stark poverty suggests a lack of social conscience.

The conclusion is that even today the stronger and the sharper, who wield political power in today’s context, feel no compunction about creating islands of abundance in the midst of oceans of want. In fact, modern thought appears to lend respectability to making limitless wealth by those who can. The deprived ones, on the other hand are depicted as laggards who do not jump at opportunities. Fact is people are differently enabled by nature and not everybody can take any kind of opportunity. Besides,it cannot be that so many billions just chose to remain deprived. No body wants to remain poor and many therefore, jump at opportunities in crime.

Fortunately, Governments of practically all shades today are conscious of their responsibility in the matter of removing stark poverty. This is specially so in democracies where (inexplicably?) the value of the vote of the poorest is the same as that of the richest. However, the efforts of the governments so far, as in India, are succeeding only in providing some kind of sustenance as the resources required for a real uplift are just not forthcoming. Social conscience is not sufficiently risen to make an impact although private philanthropy is sporadically at work.

It is to be recognized that inbuilt human instincts like selfishness, insecurity, herd and hoarding proclivities stand in the way of more equitable distribution of resources in the society and gives rise to distress and degradation in sections of mankind. A real solution can thus be expected only if resources increase to an extent where there is enough and to spare for every one. But that may be a mirage. While individuals, with a few exceptions, cannot be expected to forego what they consider the legitimate fruit of their labors or gifts of their fate, the governments have to necessarily work to rescue the down-trodden and humanize the entire populace.The Government of my country, India, I believe, is sincerely making endeavors in this regard. Fight against black money,grant of subsidies and direct financial assistance to the deprived are among measures being actively pursued. I believe that the success of these measures and other innovations being constantly thought of should help the people of the country to live with an easier conscience. The Government should also pay attention to rationalization of wage structures and other forms of inequity.

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