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Living for the Sake of Others Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shahjahan Siraj, Bangladesh May 17, 2004
Peace & Conflict , Education , Child & Youth Rights   Opinions
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“When I remember the faces of those starving street children, I cannot eat anymore. I cannot stop my tears when I walk along the street of slum near the Sheraton Hotel. They eat only 2 times a day. With necked feet they play, run and sell flowers during traffic jams in Kazi Nazrul Avenue, but they always smile…” This testimony of Tunoda, a Japanese volunteer working in Bangladesh touched my consciousness. I asked her, “What is your opinion about the cause of these situations?” She said, “I don’t know, but I am sure it is the result of conflict and social imbalance in Bangladesh.”

After hearing this simple statement, I faced the struggles and conflict I see around me. I found myself in an invisible war. What a catastrophic this war is! We can’t see, but are suffering every moment. Conflicts in our family, school, work place and in politics are happening in various ways. Because of conflicts we are harassed with dwell desires, live with fears, anxieties, resentments, guilt, anger and understanding.

In ancient times, human beings were just like animals because of unconsciousness, lack of education, information, self-control and understanding. But what is going on now? We are civilized; have most powerful communication tools Internet, tremendous success in science and technology and global peace building organizations the UN. Why can we not be establishing our ultimate goal peace and happiness? To express my opinion on the cause and solution of suffering, I would like to concentrate on a core point.

Present modern era is directly or indirectly influenced by 19th century’s Social Darwinism, led by Herbert Spencer who claimed, ‘conflict in human society is natural.’ According to Social Darwinists "The survival of the fittest” that is ‘process of natural selection’ is also relevant in human society as like as another life kingdom. But I don’t agree with this hypothesis. If I support and follow them, as I believe the conflict will never end and peace will never established.

I would like to ask another basic question: Are human beings naturally good or evil? Personally, I believe human being is naturally good. We are all children of God, not Satan. We have spiritual universal values truth, beauty and goodness. After all we have the enormous potentiality and capacity to fulfill the universal purposes; and to be happy eternally through loving and being loved truly. (We have also evil desires. Here I will not discuss about the cause of evil desires.)

Conflict comes from ignoring or violating the universal principles- ‘living for the sake of others’. Mostly conflicts start from animosity emotions to verbal aggression, which lead us to abuse, injustice, hostility, exploitation, murder, and even war. In a nut shell, we can say conflicts begin from the individual level through ‘breakdown of interaction’, ‘ignoring the higher purpose’ and ‘accumulation of conflict’.

We know the universe is harmonized by the interrelated and orderly system. To generate the energy for anything to exist, act and reproduce, there is needed complementary subject-object partners. Conflict starts when breakdown the vital interaction between subject and object because of misuse, mistreatment, misunderstanding and in one way selfish control. Selfishness produces all kinds of negative emotions like arrogance, prejudice, greed, lust, exploitation and vengeance etc.

Everything has an individual purpose that maintains its own existence. Along with individual purpose everything has and under a higher purpose. Denying the higher that is whole purpose is another root cause of conflict. The person with mature character always gives priority to the whole purpose rather than their individual ones. In order to fulfill the higher purpose, we sometimes need to sacrifice our personal purpose or desire. Problems arise when we emphasis only on our individual purpose above the whole. Someone who constantly ignores the higher purpose is selfish. When our personal gain harms the well being of others, we quickly find ourselves in conflict because of our selfishness.

When we work together through harmonious giving and taking interaction centering on a common purpose, the result is greater unity and new developments. If selfishness exists within the individual, eventually conflicts prevail in the family and expand to the society. However, conflict in society occurs when one group or a nation pursues its self-interest over the greater good. Many conflicts among nations or ethnic groups today are the result of accumulated historical burdens of crimes and mistreatment. These transmit generation to generation because of ignorance or unwillingness to take responsibility. As an individual we are connected to the whole and to the past, present and future through our family, society, nation and the world. It is up to us to acknowledge our responsibility for conflicts at each of these levels and take steps to resolve them. By taking responsibility for past and present conflicts, we help relieve the burden of future generations, and free them to experience greater progress and harmony.

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Writer Profile
Shahjahan Siraj

Shahjahan Siraj is a multiemdia designer, film maker and development practitioner (http://www.machizo.com/siraj) in Bangladesh. He is the founder of Machizo Multimedia Communication, however editor and publisher of 'Climate Radio', 'UnnayanTV' and 'UnnayanNews'. (http://www.machizo.com)
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