Ever since I’ve started on the path of spiritual evolution, I’ve become more empathetic towards people and the society. Earlier I would hear about a problem that the society was facing and I would feel that there’s no point in trying to do anything about it. I was a pessimist and just tried to avoid thinking about global, cultural and social issues. Even if I thought about some topic, I didn’t try to look for a solution because I felt that even if I do think up a solution that no one else has thought of so far, I would never be able to get people to follow it.
Now my thinking has changed and it has been changing constantly. I shot to the other extreme and became a complete optimist. I wrote books called how to save the world and save our society. But the more I thought about the problems of our world the more disheartened I got.
There’s global warming, economic meltdown, problems of the financial system, mistreatment of women, gun laws of the US, politics of India, Kashmir crisis, Tibet crisis, genetically altered rice, drugs, materialism, unhealthy lifestyle of people, people giving up on their dreams to settle down etc. There are a lot of issues out there that bother me. It all started pushing me towards pessimism again.
I realized that for every topic out there, there are two main opposing point-of-views and intelligent people on both sides support them stridently. There might be a few other views on a topic but usually the two opposing ones attract the most supporters.
If there are people who try to increase awareness of global warming, there are also people who say that there is no global warming or that it is completely natural. If there are people who are trying to make others understand what a local Kashmiri youth has to go through, there are a huge number of people who just think of them as terrorists and completely dismiss them. While feminists ask for stricter punishments for rapists in India, a vast number of people believe that the freedom of women should be restricted even more, in order to decrease cases of rape.
There is an ideological war going on about every important topic. But the important thing I have understood is that it’s inefficient to try and convince people to one side of the argument by using logic. It’s a huge waste of energy. No matter what you say and how rational it sounds, people won’t change their minds unless something from within, tells them to change. As soon as someone tells them to change, their defenses go up and it’s like banging your head on a wall. Logic is the last tool you can hope to use to convince people.
This is why debates never result in one person accepting the other person’s point. Ideally the two people entering a debate should be open enough to recognize that if all their points are countered then they’ll have to happily concede that they were wrong and change their own point of view. But that never happens. Ego comes in between and a debate actually turns into a sort of verbal war, where people will die before conceding ideological territory.
Instead of going pessimistic this time I’ve come to the conclusion that although it’s of no use to try and convince people about something, it shouldn’t stop you from trying to educate them. The first step is to let go of your own ego and concede that right now you believe in something but if new points come up you might have to change your views. This is the hardest step but if you can do this then you can move to the next step. Instead of fighting a war and assaulting people into believing your point of view, just try to educate them. Put you point of view out there and let people make up their minds about it. Edification, of both others and yourself, should be the main purpose of debate.
In both my books I have maintained that the steps I’ve given are not a complete plan of solving the problem but just a few steps in the right direction. Even though I have tried to be humble, I feel now that I might have failed. From now on, while writing any other non fiction book, instead of trying to give a series of steps to follow I’ll just try to present my point of views and try to edify the reader. It’s important to make people think and not necessary to make them believe.
I’ll make it a rule to not write another step by step book or blog post. I have been writing such posts because it is considered a good way of writing posts. The internet is full of “3 ways to” and “5 steps to” and “how to do something in 8 easy steps” kind of posts. This is what people are attracted to. I’m not saying that this prescriptive style of writing is wrong but since my blog is about edification and not about providing a ready made solution to the readers, I’ll stop writing such posts.
As far as the ideological war is concerned, every problem that has disturbed me in the recent past has but one solution and that of course is spiritual evolution. As long as we stay as unspiritual as we are right now, all these problems won’t ever go away. The only permanent solution is to have all of humanity to rise spiritually. This seems like an impossible goal and I don’t really know right now if it can be done or not. But I like to believe that it can be done. All I can do right now is work on my own spiritual evolution and record my journey here in this blog. I must also help others in their spiritual evolution because without helping others I can’t evolve myself. One of the main themes of spirituality is the interconnectedness of everything and everyone. In order for me to evolve others have to evolve as well. A corollary can be that if I evolve, I’ll help others evolve automatically. Maybe someday I’ll come up with something that’ll really help the whole world or maybe my own spiritual journey will be enough to change the world. But again all this is just my ideological territory.