Every man is influenced by the society in which he lives. He depends on other people and other people depend on him in many ways. It has rightly been said that man is a social animal; he can’t survive in isolation. The tailor goes to the grocer to get the things he needs. The grocer needs the services of the tailor. A carpenter needs the services of a mason and the mason that of the carpenter. Similar is the case with so many other social groups and classes. People use the services of one another for their day-to-day needs. They all depend on society for growth and sustenance.
A relationship of give and take or of a vendor and buyer exists between people. If one is a service provider, the other is the user of the service provided. Similar is the case with the employer and the employee, where both fulfil the demands and needs of each other. The affairs of the society thus run smoothly. However, certain norms and rules of decent behaviour are necessarily to be observed in the conduct of such bilateral relationships, whether in society or in one’s own household.
Take the case of a patient and doctor. The patient pays the doctor and the doctor in turn treats him. Their interests are interlinked. The patient is dependent on the doctor for his treatment and the doctor on the patient for his earning. Once a doctor prayed to God for increase in his income. In other words, he prayed for more patients to be treated. The livelihood of the doctor was in the sufferings of others! Here the interest of one class of people clashed with the interest of another class. There can be so many such cases. It can’t be helped. We depend on society from birth to death. We react to different social situations and social realities differently.
It is said that we suffer more in imagination than in reality. Actually we need to maintain will power, mental health, and have a reasonable level of pain tolerance. We often fear that our sufferings are more severe than of others. We tend to exaggerate our sufferings and pain in comparison to others. This can be because of lack of resourcefulness on our part.
In fact, enormous amount of pain abounds everywhere in the world. Misfortune, in general, is the rule of life. The pleasures of life which we enjoy seem to us to be trivial, but the pain seems to be more painful than it actually is. We fail to understand that the plight of other people is worse than ours. This may bring some sort of consolation to us, but nature has kept our destiny hidden from us. There is much virtue and wisdom underlying this concealment. Think of a sheep which is about to be slaughtered by a butcher. The butcher is carrying the knife in one hand and some grass for the sheep in the other hand which the sheep eats happily not knowing what lies in store for it and that from a short while from now the butcher is going to cut its throat. If the sheep knew its fate beforehand, it would not eat the grass. It eats the grass happily because its destiny has been kept hidden from it. Similar is the case with other affairs of the world where our misfortunes have been kept hidden from us.
People exaggerate their sufferings while trivialising those of others. This was the subject matter of a treatise written by a famous Urdu writer. Once, people were given the choice to exchange their worries and sufferings with those of others (though hypothetically). Availing of this facility, one person suffering from a headache exchanged with one who suffered from the rude behaviour of his prodigal son, who kept demanding money from him and even beating him. He thought that the problem of the headache was not as severe as that of the beatings he got from his son. Similarly, the other man thought that the rude behaviour of the son was tolerable but not his headache. So, both exchanged their respective sufferings. After sometime, both realised that their previous problems were better than their new ones. Similar was the case with two persons, one of whom suffered from indigestion and the other from polyphagia (excessive eating). More episodes of the kind had been narrated in that book by the author in an interesting manner. This proved that there was no one happy with his present condition of living. One has to bear with his present condition and whatever destiny has kept in store for him. One should be content with the condition in which one is, and face life as it is, as none is happy in this world. Here lies the secret of real happiness.
Dale Carnegie, in one of his books, narrates that he once asked a desert settler of Arabia about the secret of his good health, in spite of the unfavourable conditions of a hard life. He replied that he never worried as he believes that whatever comes his way is the will of God. This was the secret of his good health, free from all worries.
That is what we have been ordained to recite as often as possible: Hasbunallah wa ni’mal-Wakil. (Sufficient for us is Allah, and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs).
No doubt about it.
The writer is a retired telecom engineer.