These gentle hours that plenty bade to bloom,
Those calm desires that asked but little room,
Those healthful sports that graced the peaceful scene,
Lived in each look, and brightened all the green;
These, far departing seek a kinder shore,
And rural mirth and manners are no more.
-Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village.
It is twenty first century, a period of rapid modernization and urbanization. That today we have unmanned spaceships and rockets bears testimony to the fact that we have come a long way from what our ancestors were capable of and as time goes by our posterity will only surpass our feats. It is because of such modernization and urbanization that today we have everything at the touch of our finger; thus enabling us not only to live a better life but in fact a globalized life. Herein then the question arises. Are we honestly leading a happy and peaceful life? In spite of having everything we ever wished for do we at times feel a void in our life? In the rush to modernize and urbanize have we lost our humanity? Or has our relations with others changed any equations? These are the questions that we need to ask ourselves.
The ability to create something unique and remarkable is quite an achievement that every human being aspires for. But what if that achievement or the path followed to achieve that achievement becomes the cause of human decay and degeneration? The rapid modernization and urbanization has certainly improved the condition of man but it has also brought about loss of cultural values and mannerisms thus leading to degeneration of the human race. And the biggest proof of it is that in today’s time we have to think twice before trusting someone. Yes! It sounds a bit cynical but sadly this is the truth. Ask yourself can we honestly trust someone blindly without such thoughts of deceit and betrayal not creeping into our mind? Who are we to blame for it? Us or the time and situation? But then aren’t men responsible for creating those situations? Truth is in our rush to build ourselves a comfortable and modernized life we have uprooted ourselves from the basic tenets of human life- compassion, contentment, patience and tranquility. The instances of war crimes, human killings, rape stands testimony to the decay and loss of human values.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization”. And indeed it seems to be true because the more civilized and modernized we have become, it seems we have only managed to detach ourselves from our soul. Relationships which hold human beings together are today fraught with tensions and conflicts. In this fast paced twenty first century, in the race to fulfill our aspirations and modernize the world we have lost the sense of oneness and togetherness which used to bind people together in a single relation. The reality in fact, is that we end up spending more time in the office than at home which thereby takes a toll on our relations and familial life. Of course, work is important and we ought not to ignore work if we need to feed ourselves but then man is himself responsible for creating such a situation. Healthy competition is good but what is unfair is that in our desire to be victorious we take our relationships for granted; the consequence of which is a failed relationship with our near and dear ones.
Life is like a daffodil. We have only a short time to stay and never to be found again. Do we then need to squander our life for something whose price is to be paid in terms of contentment, happiness and tranquility? Certainly not. Life is to be enjoyed and this can be achieved only if we appreciate life and have compassion for one another. As Vince Lombardi said, “Individual commitment to a group effort- that is what makes a team work, a society work, a civilization work.” Instead of decaying our values for the sake of modernization and urbanization what is necessary is to find happiness in pure and simple things and savour those moments spent with our loved ones. The world today has seen lots of upheavals and political turmoils. True to what Y.B Yeats says in his poem “The Second Coming”, things indeed have fallen apart and “mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”. In such times then, what is important is to uphold the human values and this can be done by celebrating life. So yes, celebrate life no matter how hard the situation is and appreciate one another because that is the key to happiness. In the words of Robert A. Heinlein, “Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named…but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”
In the growing demand to modernize and urbanize ourselves, we should not lose our hope and instead continue to cherish those values of politeness, compassion and gentleness even in times of adversity. Remember life is not a bed of roses. In order to survive we have to cross the hurdles and emerge victorious but for that we need not barter our soul. Our good mannerisms and good relations with one another is what makes us human and we have to uphold that no matter how much we are busy in urbanizing ourselves or the world. The birth of a man is successful only when he is able to celebrate life, uphold human values and be humane in every possible way. So go ahead and enjoy your life.