Role of Students in the Society

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There has been an ongoing debate in the circle of social and political scientists whether an organized society should be responsible to serve the individual citizen's true end, i.e., his real needs and rights, such as freedom, growth, peace, security, privacy, etc. Or, is it the citizen who is to be held responsible for and made subservient to the society's needs, "in the interest of the common good"? Such "either-or" ideological confrontation is created mainly by doctrinaire philosophers, if not by the politicians with vested interests. In reality, both these claims are artificially projected. They could be made mutually complementary when properly balanced in a truly liberal and enlightened community. For, nothing and no one exists in complete isolation. At the same time, a healthy and truly civilized society thrives on co-operation between citizens, office-bearers, and authorities in any institution where an individual's voice is respected and valued. However, these ideological stands can be analyzed and understood in the light of the universal teachings of Theosophy and of some social philosophers like Plato, Socrates, Hegel, etc. Take, for instance, what appears to be the now defunct "Socialist" doctrine. Its advocates often go to the length of saying that the individual has to be subordinated for the welfare of the community, and by community is often emplied the monolithic state authority. Sometimes a citizen is just a fodder to fatten the economy and the power of the State so that his claims or even his freedom may be sacrificed if the power of the State is questioned! The State is supposed to play the sovereign role of a so-called benevolent Father, a King and a Protector, and all must assume their proper place in the system without a whimper! On the other hand, "Individualism"—a politico-economic doctrine that advocates complete freedom for the common man—can go to the other extreme. For instance, sometimes its advocates interpret "freedom" as license to think and freely express unconcerned as to its adverse impact on others! This is the danger of bringing any concept "to its logical conclusion"—good and well meaning, at the origin—when the end is selfishly motivated. When the inherent role, duty and responsibility—either on the part of the common man or society—are diluted, either of the above-mentioned ideologies fails to serve what Socrates calls the "Common Good," or individual well-being. An enlightened social philosophy has to take into account the basic facts relating to the nature of man and the universe. Human society is a body of free and independent "Souls," each soul being an individual unit of life, having to fulfil his own destiny and obligations. The Society, with which he is morally bound, should be able to afford opportunities to fulfil his powers and destiny, thereby sharing and enjoying the fruits of the individual's achievements, talents and progress. This implies the mutually supportive relationship between man and his race. Man is a miniature cosmos, "a microcosm of the great macrocosm." What affects one affects the other, since "interdependence is the law of life," within the whole. We must address these facts, just mentioned, to arrive at the proper stand on philosophical, social and moral issues. There is a "spark of humanity" [humaneness] in man as well as in the collectivity. Theosophy rejects the idea that mankind as a species belongs to the animal kingdom, only more intelligent and acquisitive! To fulfil his Dharma, man as an intelligent, self-conscious being, as also a moral chooser, must recognize his obligatory role in the natural order of things. Any debate of the kind mentioned in the beginning of this article must not mislead us into sharp dichotomy by pitting an individual against the collectivity of men, and vice versa.After all, man is part of the whole, and all men have a common origin, possibilities, needs and also a common destiny as a race. An individual's fate is...
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