Essay No. 7:
“What We Call Progress, Is Largely Delusory”: According to the statement, the progress which man has made is just a deception. The statement is akin to a riddle, which needs an in-depth analysis of the proposition to arrive at a certain conclusion.
Progress implies a forward movement from a lower to a higher level. Viewed from this angle, man has marched from victory to victory by taming the forces of nature to his advantage. He has made tremendous scientific, technological progress in different fields of life. He is hell-bent to carry on further research to harness natural resources for increasing the pace of material conveniences of life.
There was a time when nature ruled over man. Now a man has greatly subordinated nature to his control, by exploiting its varied bounties for his benefit. The sky has been conquered when jets, aeroplanes fly at a very high height, carrying passengers from one part of the world to the other. The distance has been annihilated which has made the world a global village.
The seas are paraded by ships carrying cargo and that has greatly facilitated the movement of capital goods from the developed to the underdeveloped world. That has given a boost to the development process in the latter. Travel has become easier. The fast running vehicles, fitted with ACs, make road travel comfortable.
People like to travel in big buses, which apart from a cutting distance, afford a comfortable drive to passengers. IT has brought a revolution in the domain of information communication. The use of the internet is a sort of addiction as young boys/girls sit for hours together to glean diverse type of information.
The use of modern health technologies in third world countries has substantially reduced the death rate by prolonging the longevity of human life. The frequent use of modern antibiotics has enabled man to gain control over erstwhile deadly diseases.
Man has done wonders in the aforesaid fields. God to quote an Urdu poet (Addam) might be laughing over the creation of man, who as His vicegerent on the earth, through his intelligence has exploited and tamed forces of nature to make his early life comfortable.
Man is the nucleus of the world, who is out to unravel further mysteries of nature. Now he is after conquering the space to experience a new mode of living there. Is it progress or regress? The answer is, it is progress judged by every measure of rationality. It is substantial and concrete. It can’t be considered as delusory.
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We have so far discussed one side of the coin. The other begs discussion. True, man has made marvellous material progress, but the facts have largely remained confined to the developed countries in the West. Their population is less than one-third of the world, but they share more than 70 per cent of the world income.
On the other hand, more than two-third population of the world gets less than one-third of the world income. Top of all income disparities between the developed and the underdeveloped countries are on the increase. The absolute income gap between the two increases in overtime.
What is this progress, whose benefits accrue only to the developed countries, while the underdeveloped world languishes in poverty, squalor and destitution? A similar trend is observable, within the underdeveloped countries, where the gulf between the rich and poor is widening with the passage of time.
There are glaring income disparities between the rich and the poor which tend to exacerbate over time. Under the market economic system, the fruit of progress is largely confined to the rich, the elite classes. Real progress will usher in when the fruits are equitably shared by all the classes in a society. The fruits of development are enjoyed by a minority but not by the majority.
Man’s spiritual side has remained neglected under the layer of material progress. Man’s Endeavor to discover gaps in the outer space has not made him look into his being, which is characterized by certain gaps. Man has become hollow from within. He is the seeker of pleasure and comfort. He is the follower of the Epicurean philosophy of life. He does not listen to the inner calls of his self. He is a bid to capture material comforts has neglected his self.
Man does not realize that bread is not the be-all end end-all of life. He wishes to survive by bread only. He is thus the chaser of materialism to the neglect of higher values of life. The west, in particular, has abandoned religion and taken it out of the life of a man. That is why, in spite of having access to all modern amenities of living, it is devoid of mental peace and harmony. Religion interpreted rationally is the way that could bless a man with harmony and peace of mind.
A man should concentrate on this front to overcome the gaps in his being through the frequent remembrance of Allah. The presentation of the foregoing facts reveals that the progress man has attained is a partial one. One may call it one-sided. Total is not visible. Hence in view of partial achievement, the progress may be described as delusory.