Growing up society
We never stop growing up, however old we get. We keep growing up whether we like it or not. It shows in our faces. It shows in our smiles, in our words. It shows in our treatment of other people, especially those closest to us. As spring water never stops bubbling to the surface, so our personal growth continues bubbling until it becomes Old Man River or Old Lady Flowers. The first thing we create in this world is ourselves. The last thing we glance at is also ourselves. Hewn rock and toiled years may take their toll but they never steal your soul.
I’m using ‘soul’ as a substitute for personality plus something more, something deep within us that we often don’t recognise and seldom search for. Think about this definition of your soul. It is the Sun of your Thoughts and Actions, the Moon of your Dreams and Aspirations.It reflects every one of them. We call someone ‘A Good Soul’ when they are fulfilled and are fulfilling others. There are many good souls in the world. Children start out as good souls. They can get cheated, abused, robbed. Small wonder that they then cheat, abuse and rob. Good souls that are treated decently, respectfully and toughly when young usually remain good souls for the rest of their lives.
Just as the river never stops meandering to shape its banks, so we continuously shape ourselves. When the flowers lose their bloom we pray they will be back next year. Our yearning for continuity, for confidence in the path we are walking is overwhelming. So is the other person’s. Each of us is a building block in the fabric of our society. Each contributes every day, every hour, every moment to that society. Each act, however private, impacts that society. Every thought we have charges our personality and hence the personalities of those we are in touch with.
It is sobering to think that our words make our neighbours reflect, however briefly, on their positions in life, at their work, among their friends. Their confidence must come from you. Your confidence must support them. Because society is itself growing up. It doesn’t matter which country or province you look at, it is learning the rules of the new technological and crowded world. Like a teenager, a developing society is riddled with contradictions, exhausted by procedures, fed up with being processed like canned beef. Like a teenager, it is innovative as it discovers the world. Its contribution to society will be swift and meaningful.
Ed Luce, writing in the Financial Times of 04Oct19 says: “We are living in a time when shamelessness is rewarded, stupidity celebrated and corruption treated as a mark of savviness. Most ages do not reward these vices. They only rise to the surface when the trust that glues our political systems together vanishes as it has in the UK, the US and some non-English-speaking democracies like Italy. You can only shame someone if there is a generally accepted definition of behaviour that is shameful.”
It is the best description I have read of what is happening to our political growing up. It is possibly the most damning indictment of our political moral education written so far. I would add this to what Edward Luce says. The relationship between individual behaviour and societal corruption is closer than any of us cares to admit. It is not a raving Prime Minister or whimsical President who determines who is elected. It is us.
Every thought, every step, every word. Those are the bindings of society.
Those are what determines whether and how society grows up.