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Community spirit

Community is not a just big family. Its strength lies in voluntary cooperation, conscious dedication, effort and care. 

Community is not a just big family. Its strength lies in voluntary cooperation, conscious dedication, effort and care.  | Photo Credit: Getty Images

A seamy side of modern life is the evanescent community spirit. Five or six decades ago, the situation was different. The community is at the heart of a civilised society. Families have always answered the call to come together in groups.

Community is not a just big family. Its strength lies in voluntary cooperation, conscious dedication, effort and care. At present, people completely ignore even their neighbours. The joint family system has disappeared. The link between the individual, the family and society has become tenuous. Why?

The trouble with us is that we are always preoccupied with our own problems — some are imaginary. Theodore Rubin rightly said: “The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise, and thinking that having problems is a problem.”

Our mind is often dominated by negative thoughts. Discrimination is one. The obnoxious practice of untouchability is the denouement of discrimination. Gandhiji considered it a sin. Few realise discrimination involves enormous economic and social costs. The situation worsened because of the caste system. We are unable to control caste feelings. The system is deep-rooted.

Very few are aware of the power of love and service. Love signifies friendliness, selflessness, altruism and sacrifice. We should give something unconditionally for the benefit of others. It has been rightly observed: “If a man has learned the language, lesson and practice of love, he has probably learned it all.”

Who can forget the services of Mother Teresa? His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV has rightly pointed out: “If you help others and serve others as much as you can, that’s the proper way to lead a meaningful life.” He also said: “If you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” About Durgabai Deshmukh, first Chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board, somebody said she could find scope for service even in a desert!

What is needed is service-oriented mind. Also, team spirit is developed when giving happens spontaneously. Ruskin wrote: “The only consequence of life is what we do.”

Competent leadership is conspicuous by its absence, particularly in the political field. We witness leadership crisis in almost all spheres. A leader always moves from the self-centred to the other-centred universe. Leaders are needed to promote community spirit.

It is high time we looked at responsibility, or the lack of it, as a public concern. There should be a reassessment of social values. A common understanding of what may and may not be done is imperative if people are to live harmoniously together.

satyasundaram@yahoo.com


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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 7:57:52 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/community-spirit/article65547023.ece