A mea­sure of Hu­man Val­ues

(I)

Daily Messenger - - National - Rash­hed Ah­mad Chugh­tai

Ay­at­ul­lah Sayyid Mu­jtaba Mu­sawi Lari has ex­plained com­pre­hen­sively the Hu­man val­ues in the light of Qu­ran and Sunna “Per­son­al­ity is that which makes ev­ery in­di­vid­ual dif­fer­ent from oth­ers and by means of which we de­ter­mine the real worth and sta­tion of a hu­man be­ing. De­spite the fact that all per­sons pos­sess com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tics as well as com­mon re­ac­tions par­tic­u­lar to the hu­man species and are sim­i­lar in re­gard to the so­cial in­stincts, nev­er­the­less, ev­ery one of them pos­sesses cer­tain con­gen­i­tal and ac­quired qual­i­ties and cer­tain par­tic­u­lar gifts that dis­tin­guish him from the rest of his kind.

Per­son­al­ity does not con­sist of cer­tain ab­stract char­ac­ter­is­tics of a per­son; rather, it con­sti­tutes the to­tal­ity of an in­di­vid­ual on which his iden­tity is based, mak­ing him dis­tinct from other in­di­vid­u­als. It is a unity com­prised of a group of qual­i­ties and in­ner mo­tives. More­over, only those qual­i­ties of a per­son are con­sid­ered to be part of his per­son­al­ity which have some de­gree of per­ma­nence.

Al­though the prin­ci­ples that gov­ern the growth and de­vel­op­ment of per­son­al­ity ap­ply equally to all, but when these prin­ci­ples are ap­plied to two in­di­vid­u­als the re­sults ob­tained are not the same; when the per­son­al­i­ties of the two are com­pared, the dif­fer­ence and dis­sim­i­lar­ity be­tween the two is clearly no­tice­able.

To be sure, cer­tain ob­serv­able as­pects of per­son­al­ity are sus­cep­ti­ble to mea­sure­ment, but it is not so sim­ple to mea­sure the deeper and in­ner as­pects of per­son­al­ity and the hid­den mo­tives and urges of a per­son.

Some of the qual­i­ties play a more im­por­tant role in the struc­ture of per­son­al­ity than oth­ers. These qual­i­ties which are of a moral and eth­i­cal char­ac­ter are more sig­nif­i­cant from the view­point of per­son­al­ity. In fact, the 'char­ac­ter' of a per­son is his per­son­al­ity when viewed from the moral an­gle.

The im­pact of per­son­al­ity, its char­ac­ter and strength, as well as the ac­qui­si­tion of those qual­i­ties which go into the mak­ing of a per­son, play a more pro­found and fun­da­men­tal role in the wel­fare and woes of in­di­vid­u­als. This is so be­cause hu­man felic­ity and mis­for­tune is de­pen­dent, more than any ex­ter­nal fac­tor, on the level of think­ing, in­tel­lect, spir­i­tual mer­its and the in­ner causes at work within an in­di­vid­ual. The dif­fer­ences of so­cial and fi­nan­cial sta­tus have no def­i­nite and de­ci­sive im­pact on any­one's felic­ity.

An in­di­vid­ual's spir­i­tual foun­da­tions and the de­vel­op­ment of his per­son­al­ity are di­rectly re­lated to his at­tach­ment to and eval­u­a­tion of things. By na­ture he tries to es­tab­lish a har­mony be­tween his per­son­al­ity and the objects to which he is at­tached, in or­der to be­come at­tuned to them. His be­hav­iour and con­duct are tuned to and in har­mony with what he con­sid­ers to be of great­est worth and value in life. The dif­fer­ent hi­er­ar­chies of val­ues rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent ways of think­ing and dif­fer­ences of ethos. Here we have a way of judg­ing the in­trin­sic worth of ev­ery per­son and a cri­te­rion for mea­sur­ing his per­son­al­ity.

Those who base their suc­cess and hap­pi­ness on ma­te­ri­al­is­tic val­ues-both in re­spect of qual­ity and quan­tity-di­rect­ing their en­deav­ours through­out life to the at­tain­ment of ma­te­ri­al­is­tic ob­jec­tives, and to­tally ne­glect and re­ject the real val­ues ba­sic to the achieve­ment of true hap­pi­ness, they in fact shat­ter their hu­man per­son­al­ity. There are many peo­ple who spend all their lives in un­ceas­ing pur­suit of ma­te­ri­al­is­tic val­ues, but are not ready to de­vote a mo­ment of their time to dis­cov­er­ing the in­valu­able trea­sure rep­re­sented by spir­i­tual mer­its and virtues.

Schol­ars have dif­fer­ent views about the ex­tent to which the prob­lems of per­son­al­ity are re­lated to so­cial psy­chol­ogy. Some of them re­gard per­son­al­ity to be a prod­uct of hered­i­tary and phys­i­o­log­i­cal fac­tors. Some oth­ers con­sider per­son­al­ity to be to­tally a prod­uct of so­cial fac­tors. The truth lies some­where be­tween these two ex­treme po­si­tions.

Fam­ily. school and so­cial en­vi­ron­ment con­sti­tute the three most po­tent fac­tors in lay­ing the foun­da­tions of per­son­al­ity and de­ter­min­ing the char­ac­ter of a per­son. Mod­ern psy­chol­ogy gives much im­por­tance to the lit­tle-un­der­stood phe­nom­e­non of per­son­al­ity-some­thing that did not re­ceive much at­ten­tion in the old psy­chol­ogy. With­out doubt, so­cial fac­tors play an im­por­tant di­rect role in the con­sti­tu­tion of per­son­al­ity and many of a man's qual­i­ties are those which have been formed by ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment. Few are those who can re­sist the power and in­flu­ence of their en­vi­ron­ment and swim against the cur­rent.

Munn, in his work on psy­chol­ogy, says: We would pos­sess a very dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity if we had been brought up by the Eski­mos, the Sioux, the Ba­li­nese, or by some other cul­tural group. Not only would we dress dif­fer­ently, live in a dif­fer­ent kind of dwelling, eat dif­fer­ent food, use dif­fer­ent im­ple­ments and weapons, speak a dif­fer­ent lan­guage, and have dif­fer­ent so­cial cus­toms, but we would also have a very dif­fer­ent con­cep­tion of the world and of our own place within it. Our egos and our super­egos would dif­fer greatly from what they are.

Cul­tural an­thro­pol­o­gists have rightly placed much em­pha­sis upon the "so­cio-cul­tural ma­trix" in which per­son­al­i­ties de­velop. Chil­dren reared in the United States, ac­quire a way of life, and with it, a per­son­al­ity, which an out­side ob­server might well char­ac­terise as "typ­i­cally Amer­i­can." But, even within this cul­tural ma­trix, as­pects of per­son­al­ity may dif­fer de­pend­ing upon whether we are reared in the North or the South, the East or the West, whether we are reared in the coun­try, in a city or a town, whether we have grown up in the slums or in the best res­i­den­tial sec­tion, whether our early life is spent in a house or an apart­ment; whether our par­ents are rich or poor, to­gether or sep­a­rated, cul­tured or un­cul­tured, re­li­gious or ir­re­li­gious; whether we go to a stan­dard, sub­stan­dard or su­pe­rior school; whether we have, or do not have, close friends; whether they con­form, or fail to con­form, to the mores of our cul­ture; and so on.

Such so­cio-cul­tural in­flu­ences are fo­cussed upon a child from the mo­ment of birth and they con­tinue to in­flu­ence him all the days of his life.

There are many in­stinc­tive ac­tiv­i­ties which can gen­er­ally be shaped and moulded by en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. Thus for the de­vel­op­ment of the cre­ative as­pect of these ac­tiv­i­ties, it is nec­es­sary to al­ter and im­prove be­fore any­thing else those con­di­tions which can re­in­force or weaken these essen­tial ac­tiv­i­ties. Also, from an ed­u­ca­tional an­gle and from the view­point of in­flu­ence on habits, the ef­fects of ev­ery hu­man ac­tion must be prop­erly an­a­lysed in or­der to un­der­stand how a cer­tain in­cli­na­tion may be re­in­forced or checked.

From the view­point of lay­ing the foun­da­tions of emo­tional growth and mould­ing a proper so­cial en­vi­ron­ment, the years of child­hood are the most im­por­tant for­ma­tive years. The early train­ing is im­parted through par­ents and other close rel­a­tives within the fam­ily. Right con­duct and speech on the part of the teach­ers have a de­ci­sive im­pact on de­ter­min­ing the pat­tern of the child's life and in con­tribut­ing to the de­vel­op­ment of his per­son­al­ity and the blos­som­ing of his in­ner ca­pa­bil­i­ties. On the con­trary, im­proper and un­prin­ci­pled meth­ods of train­ing harm the de­vel­op­ment of the child's per­son­al­ity and re­press his in­ner ca­pac­i­ties. The young seedling that has re­cently come out of the ground can eas­ily be bent and made to grow in any di­rec­tion that one wishes. The beauty and grace of the fu­ture tree de­pends on the at­ten­tion paid to its de­vel­op­ment dur­ing the pe­riod when it is still a young plant.

Sim­i­larly, the di­rec­tion of de­vel­op­ment of per­son­al­ity can be de­ter­mined in the early years of life and the fu­ture per­son­al­ity of the child formed by pro­vid­ing proper con­di­tions and means. Hence it is pos­si­ble to pic­ture the fu­ture per­son­al­ity of a child and the type of his psy­cho­log­i­cal re­ac­tions to ad­verse con­di­tions that he may en­counter by study­ing the con­di­tions of his fam­ily and his sit­u­a­tion in it.

The cause of the back­ward­ness and stunted growth of an in­di­vid­ual or so­ci­ety in life should be sought in the short­com­ings of their per­son­al­ity. To­day, spe­cial­ists do­ing re­search on per­son­al­ity, in some re­spects, also pay at­ten­tion to deeper fac­tors.

The ex­tent of a man's in­tel­li­gence and prob­lem­solv­ing abil­ity is re­vealed dur­ing crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions. Those who also pay at­ten­tion to their in­ner re­ac­tions in their de­ci­sions and ac­tiv­i­ties at­tain a greater sense of self-as­sur­ance and in­de­pen­dence and ac­quire a greater con­fi­dence in their own per­son­al­ity. As a re­sult they are more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive than oth­ers who pay greater at­ten­tion to ex­ter­nal fac­tors. Ex­clu­sive at­ten­tion to ex­ter­nal fac­tors leads one not to pay the due at­ten­tion to his own self. Thought and care­ful­ness play an ef­fec­tive role in the de­vel­op­ment of the mind and in­tel­li­gence and the ed­i­fi­ca­tion of per­son­al­ity and give ad­di­tional worth and dig­nity to one's so­cial vis­age.

At a time when shal­low and su­per­fi­cial peo­ple are after the sat­is­fac­tion of their vain de­sires and aims, en­deav­our­ing to ful­fil them by re­sort­ing to var­i­ous kinds of means, the per­son with higher goals be­comes keener in his pur­suit of spir­i­tual de­lights by re­ly­ing on the power of his in­tel­lect. There­fore, those who pos­sess the power of thought and an ac­tive in­tel­lect and ben­e­fit from ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue their wor­thy and sub­lime thoughts, are nearer to true hap­pi­ness in this world. Schopen­hauer says:

A calm tem­per­a­ment, op­ti­mism, en­ergy and vigour are the most im­por­tant fac­tors re­spon­si­ble for man's hap­pi­ness.

A wise man even in a state of iso­la­tion can en­joy the sweet­est of mo­ments with the means of his thoughts and fan­cies, whereas the ig­no­rant man, no mat­ter how much he should vary his di­ver­sions and un­der­take enor­mous ex­pen­di­tures, can­not free him­self from the malaise that tor­tures his body and soul. The op­ti­mistic and pa­tient man can in times of penury con­duct his life with con­tent­ment and for­bear­ance, whereas the greedy man, even if he should pos­sess all the riches in the world, is al­ways down­cast and dis­sat­is­fied.

The man of vig­or­ous thought and sound in­tel­lect re­frains from su­per­fi­cial and tran­si­tory plea­sures, to at­tain which the peo­ple of the world kill them­selves.

Socrates that intellectual, once on ob­serv­ing the or­na­men­tal stuff that was put on ex­hi­bi­tion re­marked: "How many num­ber­less things ex­ist in this world of which man has no need." Hence the most im­por­tant fac­tor ef­fec­tive in the hap­pi­ness of men is per­son­al­ity.

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