Essay No. 262:
Example Is Better Than Precept: The maxim one should a set practical example of what one preaches to others. If you preach about honesty, then you must set an example of it by demonstrating it through your personal conduct. That would greatly inspire others to adopt righteous mode of living in life.
Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) practically demonstrated the virtue of austerity and simple living to the Muslim believers. Once a believer came to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and requested him to pray for his abandoning the habit of excessive sugar taking whereupon the Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked him to come the next day.
He came and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) prayed for the abandonment of his habit of sugar taking. The believers asked humbly as to why he did not pray the yesterday, whereupon the Holy Prophet (PBUH) replied that he himself had taken the sugar that day.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) made the believer realize that one should not preach one does not practice at one’s own level. The politicians in a naked manner exhort the Pakistanis to adopt austere living to pull the country to out of financial crisis. They themselves do not practice it as their own living style is marked by profligacy and exhibitionism.
A devil can quote scriptures to gain his ugly end but it would not the least influence others. Politicians, rulers who deliver long speeches eulogizing the virtue of honest living, in fact make a fun of themselves, as masses an judge them better by their practical behaviors, which openly betrays their professed verbiage.
The masses know that what they profess is all gibberish and hypocrisy. If you wish others to follow punctuality, better set an example of punctuality yourself. If leaders wish people to adopt honesty and avoid corruption, then they should set up a precedent themselves.
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One should exemplify by one’s own actions what one preaches to others. Most of the ills of Pakistan society would be removed when our rulers demonstrate by their actions of what they preach shamefacedly and that, too, without any qualm of conscience.
The proverb means that we cannot make children inculcate moral values just by preaching. Mere moralizing things is not enough. The best way to preach good values is to demonstrate them by our personal conduct to our children. Those who do not set a personal example for others to learn, are like the devil quoting scriptures. This type of conduct least creates a healthy impact on human beings.
It is said that a child learns by imitation. We display many contradictions of our conduct to our children. For example, if someone, knocks at the door to meet us and we are not inclined to meet him, we ask our children to inform him that we are not available at home.
It is a glaring instance of contradiction, which is to impact negatively on the minds of our children. In the same breath, we advise our children no to tell a lie in life. This piece of advice is in complete contradiction with our personal conduct. In other words, we cannot expect our children to adopt virtue in life, when we ourselves lack virtue in our lives.
Our politicians condemn corruption before people but themselves are the practitioners of this evil. People just laugh at the politicians when they appear before them in the livery of the Christ. As people see their leaders indulging in corruption and other social vices, they also are encouraged to act on the maxim: make hay while the sun shines.
They also start making money by hook or by crook. That weakens the social fabric and it is a sign of society heading towards destruction. Hence to create a better society, people should mend their behavior leaning towards immorality. Hence it is obligatory on the part of leaders to practice what they preach.
There should be no disparity between what one professes and practices. Every Tom, Dick and Harry should set and example of good conduct before asking others to observe morality in their behavior.