Man is the most active of all animals. The activities of all other animal are limited only to their search for food and reproduction off spring’s. But man’s activity is spread over a far field. He doesn’t only grow food and produce children, but he also makes numerous useful and beautiful things. For the security of his life he has built up a complex social organisation; and for the proper satisfaction of his wants, an equally complex economic system. Man’s energy flows through many channels and through many unfamiliar activities.
Man’s greatness therefore lies in his capacity to act. The most active nations of the world have been most progressive. They have made progress in different spheres of life. They have built their industries, have developed their natural resources, and have often penetrated into foreign lands and built empires across the seas. Thus, they have brought to their land the riches from remote corners of the earth. Inactive nations, on the other hand, live in sloth and poverty. They are dominated by foreigners who develop their resources for their own benefit. They become their slaves and work for strangers in their own land. Thus, the slavery demoralizes them. The history of mankind shows that the nation given to hard labour and constant work have made great achievements, while the achievements of dull and inactive have been very small. Action is the royal road to success, both for nations and individuals. The philosophy of action, therefore, has been highly valued through the ages. But action is the outcome of thought. If our thoughts are mean and narrow, our actions will be cruel and selfish. If, on the other hand, we think of the good of mankind, we shall strive to do good to everyone. The actions of good men are inspired by the ideals of universal love and brotherhood. The persecution of the backward races, on the other hand, is the outcome of the ‘get-rich-quick ‘policy. But, thoughts do not always translate themselves into actions. At times one doesn’t proceed beyond the level of contemplation. We may think like Hamlet, and think deeply; but when the time for action comes, we may find that the requisite will is wanting.
Disparity between thought and action is quite common in our world. There is no dearth of great ideals, but there is certainly a dearth of correspondingly great actions. Our statesman talk of lasting world peace, and yet threatens the world with atomic weapons. Our scientists, with their ideals of the pursuit of knowledge, are devising more and more terrible means of mass destruction. Likewise, our religious scholars, with all their mission or peace and love, are afraid to condemn violence and aggression. In the history of mankind great actions have often been done by comparatively small men. In their case the normal disparity between thought and action was eliminated. Inspired by great ideals, they did things which were calculated to do good for mankind, to remove its degradation and to mitigate its sorrows and sufferings. But very often thought is merely and intellectual luxury. We discuss high ideals and show them to the world as a mark of our national glory without ourselves acting in accordance with them.
Action and contemplation both are essential for life, and there should be a proper harmony between two. Contemplation alone will not help us, unless our thoughts too are adequately expressed in action. If we are constantly absorbed in thinking we become unfit for affairs of life. We, then, lose will and courage to combat wrong and injustice, and to improve life by our efforts. Therefore, we should not stop at contemplation into practice. Contemplation, therefore, should naturally be followed by action.
Malik Muhammad Abdullah