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Reconciling Self and Society

In a world propelled by scientific strides and materialistic leaps, personal existence hangs in the balance. As the demands of society grow ever more consuming, the quest to preserve our own identity takes on new urgency

By Abid Hussain Rather

In the midst of an ever-accelerating scientific revolution and relentless materialistic advancement, the once tranquil days of unhurried existence have become but a distant memory. A time when individual needs were modest, and personal development held a place of prominence now finds itself overshadowed by the frenzied pace of progress. Our contemporary world is in the throes of rapid change, demanding the undivided attention of each individual. The result? A society consumed by its obligations, leaving little room for introspection and self-growth. Reconciling Self and Society

Survey the surroundings, and it becomes evident that the ethos of perpetual busyness is the new norm. In this vortex of activity, personal identity is fading into oblivion. While a few valiantly hold onto their sense of self, many are swept away by the current, losing sight of their own existence. The demands of social duty, family, friends, and community loom large, expanding the scope of responsibilities. However, the imperative to serve others must not overshadow the equally vital obligation to cultivate one’s own being.

Walker Percy, the insightful American author, penned ‘Lost in the Cosmos’ in 1983—a mock self-help work that sheds light on our ceaseless quest for fulfillment and equilibrium. Percy posits that, historically, humanity has overlooked its own existence, immersing itself in servitude to others’ opinions. This paradox leads us to become our own adversaries as we strive to be heroes in the eyes of others while erasing our personal essence.

Yet, a pertinent question arises: Why do we so frequently neglect our own existence? Is it an innate trait or a conscious choice? Upon closer examination, our daily routines betray our indifference towards personal matters that warrant earnest attention. The harsh reality is that our negligence extends beyond mere indifference; we actively disregard our own existence. We sideline our essence amidst social and economic concerns, relegating it to the backseat while the preferences of others take the forefront. Percy’s book resonates as it elucidates the detrimental consequences of this ignorance.

Reconciling Self and Society

Human existence, since its inception, has been entwined with a myriad of responsibilities. Tugged in different directions by family, friends, colleagues, and kin, we remain divided, leaving scant time for introspection. Yet, life’s essence thrives in balance—a synergy between existential needs and societal obligations. To isolate oneself or submerge beneath duty’s weight both yield harmful outcomes.

True fulfillment blossoms when we judiciously weigh our affairs and maintain equilibrium, honoring our essence while tending to others. Some isolate themselves, confined within familial circles, tilting the balance toward the economic realm. However, a life led solely for oneself yields egotism. Conversely, total self-sacrifice to family neglects our broader social fabric. The optimal path is one of moderation—a life harmonizing self-care, familial devotion, and societal service. Neglecting any facet breeds imbalance, a fact underscored by psychologists.

Diane Von Furstenberg aptly emphasizes the significance of self-relationship: “It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” Striking this balance ensures a life well-lived, a life rich in service to others and reverence for one’s own existence.

In the endeavor to elucidate the importance of nurturing personal existence amidst societal demands, this discussion does not advocate for extreme self-centeredness or egotism. Instead, it underscores the imperative of equilibrium. Humanity’s most virtuous endeavor lies in the service of others, yet an unbalanced existence focused solely on self proves futile. Striking the right chord, embracing both personal and communal responsibilities, paves the way to a life worth celebrating—a symphony of self-awareness and social service.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of this newspaper. The author can be reached at [email protected]

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