live and work together

Working together

"If a society is to hold together and function in harmony, individuals must learn to bear with those who oppose and hurt them." - Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
By

In the days of the steam engine, the engine drivers had no option but to stand at close quarters to a blazing fire. It was all a part of being an engine driver, and without that no train could have run. Much of the same thing happens to the individuals who make things go in civic life. They are confronted by the blazing fire of their own anger at other members of society.

They rage at wrongdoers, cheats and shirkers, both real and imagined. But just as the engine driver controls both the fire which drives the engine and his own desire to escape from it, so must the individual in society tame both his own fury and a desire simply to run away from adverse situations. If a society is to hold together and function in harmony, individuals must learn to bear with those who oppose and hurt them. There is no group of people in which differences of opinion do not arise; no group in which there are never feelings of grievance and resentment. It would, indeed, be unrealistic to expect that everything should be plain sailing.

In normal families, differences of opinion occur almost every day, but the bonds of love and kinship prevail and grievances are all finally buried.

How then can people live and work together? How, with seemingly irreconcilable differences between individuals, can society be welded into a cohesive whole? There is only one way: people must bury their differences and agree to disagree. But this can happen only if people react coolly and rationally in difficult situations where relations are strained and there seems no way out of the dilemma. It can happen only if people are fully aware of their responsibilities towards others, as individuals, and towards their community as a whole.

This may seem to be asking the impossible. But this is not so. Every individual does these things in the most natural way within his own domestic circle. In normal families, differences of opinion occur almost every day, but the bonds of love and kinship prevail and grievances are all finally buried. It is in this way that a family holds together. Every home is a practical example of people agreeing to disagree.

This spirit of give and take, which is a matter of instinct in a family, is something which can emerge in a community only through conscious effort on the part of its members. While it is an emotional bond that keeps families from disintegrating, it is a rational effort which cements society, constraining its members to hold together despite all differences, and work together.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is an Islamic spiritual scholar who has authored over 200 books on Islam, spirituality, and peaceful coexistence in a multi-ethnic society.

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