Once a youth came to me. He had done his M.A. in Sociology quite recently. He was on the look-out for a job. He asked me, “Will you,please, let me know precisely as to what my please, let duty is?
“Your duty is to be a man,” I replied. “Do you want to suggest that I am not a man?” he inquired.
“How can I say that you are not a man? You have two hands and two legs, besides the complete structure of a human being. Moreover you are an educated youth. Your intellectual faculty has also been developed.” I replied.
“Then, how do you say that my duty is to be a man?”
“Perhaps you are not the complete man in the sense I have understood what it means to be a man. It war in this context that I had told you that your first duty was to be a man.”
“Will you, please, tell me whom you consider to be a man in the complete sense?”
“To my mind, he alone whose heart is devoid of cruelty is worthy of being called a man.”
“Will a man cease to be a man only because he is cruel?”
“Yes, my experience has led me to form this opinion.”
“Then, what will you call a man sans mercy?”
“A wild animal. As the wild animal is cruel by nature, it has n’t been possible for it to form a social group of its own. On the other hand, man gave up cruelty and developed the sense of non- voilence which enabled him to form a social folk his own.”
“What is society in your view?”
“It is non-violence.”
” How is non-violence synonymous with society?”
“An individual remains an individual till the last day of his life. No individual loses his individual entity to become society. The thread of non-violence transforms a disintegrated individual into an integrated whole and ultimately an individual changes into society.”
“Does society not mean compromise of self- interests?”
“To my mind it does not mean so.”
“A cruel man can have no compromise even on his own interests. With the growth of non- violence in him, he begins to convert himself into a social creature. Many persons find it difficult to be social in spite of living in such an environment.”
“Is it possible for a person to remain unaffected by social environment even as he lives in society?”
“Yes, it is”.
“Kindly elucidate it a little.”
“Is an exploiter not an unsocial being? Is a criminal not an unsocial element? Are the persons who regard human beings as untouchables and low not unsocial? The man who does not look upon a man as a man cannot be called a social being even if he lives in society.”
“Does your expectation of a man to treat all the human beings alike appear feasible to you If so, do you expect a father to give a part of his neighbours in addition to what he is to give to his children?”
“The question that you have raised bears a direct relation-ship with social practices. It has nothing to do with human values and the evaluation of human beings based on it”.
“What is your view of human evaluation?
“To look upon a human being as a human being.”
“What are the results this viewpoint is likely to cause?”
“It may result in bringing about an end of the system of the evaluation of a human being on the basis of his utility. A man values another man from viewpoint of his utility for him. He treats him affectionately as long as he finds him of some use to him. He grows cruel towards him as soon as he realises that he is no longer useful to him. But if a man is valued from the viewpoint of a human being, he will not be subjected to such humiliation. In other words we can say that only he who is imbued with a sense of compassion can evaluate a man from the viewpoint of a man. And he alone who can evaluate a man from the angle of vision of a human being is a man in the true sense of the word.”
I found that the views of that youth were now almost identical with those of mine. He carried the point of conversation further. He said, “Should we behave gently only towards human beings?
I replied, “I do not mean to say that we should not be kind and gentle towards birds and animals. What I mean is that as a man lives in the company of human beings for the most of his time, he should make a beginning in this direction with human beings. Then he should show kindness towards animals and birds.”
“I want to know its reasons.”
“It is candid in itself:
1. All men, birds and animals are creatures. One living being is intimately connected with another being. So it is his duty to be kind to all living beings.
2. Man is the wisest and most capable creature. Hence it is his duty to be gentle and kind to all those beings which are weak and incapable. He should not be cruel towards them.
3. Should a man who is cruel towards the creatures who are less capable and weaker than himself expect that the creatures who are stronger and more capable than him will not treat him cruelly? Hence it is his duty not to indulge in such actions as may add fuel to the fire of cruelty.”
While speaking, I was also studying the expression of his feelings on his face. I felt as if our discussion about man’s sweet and gentle demeanour had awakened his own humaneness and compassion. I told him in a dramatic manner that he had turned a man and his duty was to develop humanity.
My words did not take him by surprise and I wondered at his silence. By then our discussion having already crossed the bounds of verbal stage had permeated the mental stage.