Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation, brought freedom to Mother India. What he achieved for the nation is political freedom from the rule of the British Empire. But he advocated strongly that true freedom can be achieved if only we have a moral vision in life, guided by care and concern for humanity. He is called “Mahatma” precisely because he has made indelible impression in the minds of people by his life and his future vision for humanity. We acquire moral values gradually and it is a lifelong process. He clearly explained before the independence of India his moral vision. “Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles” will never bring love and respect, unity and harmony, peace and prosperity in a society. If these social evils are allowed to prosper in a society, they inhere in themselves their own destruction. “The world is a dangerous place to live in, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it”. Similarly the Bengali poet Sudhindranath Dutta says, “Hell does not fail to let loose if one remains blind”.
The seven social evils are:
1.Wealth without Work
If someone makes money by manipulating people and things, getting something for nothing, it is evil. The wealth accumulated is ill-gotten wealth and it is clearly cheating and nothing short of robbing.
2. Pleasure without Conscience
If someone who is immature and selfish and does not have consideration and respect for others, makes use of others as objects of profit and pleasure that one is evil to the core.
3. Knowledge without Character
If we focus our attention only on academic achievement of merely getting degrees without character formation in our institutions and society it is dangerous to the nation and the world. The students must be empowered to have consideration for the society at large especially the weaker sections. They should discern what is right and what is wrong. The knowledge alone is not sufficient but they should learn and choose the right thing and live by the truth.
4. Commerce without Morality
Human persons cannot be sacrificed for the sake of prospering in business and acquiring money and wealth. The businessmen must undertake certain social obligations in their business and they should contribute to the welfare of the society. They should not exploit the workers without giving them proper salary or proper working conditions.
5. Science without Humanity
All scientific inventions and technological progress must have a human face and should be directed towards the development of humanity. If there is no human purpose it will degenerate into a battle of man against humanity. We will become victims of our scientific progress. For example, originally the splitting of atom was done to produce electricity but now it is made use for building atom bombs to destroy people and nations. Hitler, with the ideology of Nazism, became a danger to world peace.
6. Worship without Sacrifice
Sacrifice is part and parcel of every religion. The rites and rituals are used in every religion to express the interior disposition. Every religion preaches on love for God and neighbours. Love involves sacrifice. Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”(Jn 15, 13). Religion builds relationship between God and man and men among themselves. Any relationship or love involves sacrifice. Hence religion without sacrifice is merely a ritual empty of the true spirit of religion.
7. Politics without Principles
Today, unfortunately, politics is built on hero worship and power mongering. Political life must be built on certain principles and right ideologies. If people enter into politics only for attaining power and position, they will compromise the principles and ideologies which they propagate to the masses. Finally it will not do any good for the society but only a few will enjoy power and money at the expense of the people.
It is indeed a great challenge to fight against these social evils and bring in a just society where everyone has equal opportunity and respect. We need not despair of failures when we encounter in our fight against the social evils. In such situations, the words of Mahatma Gandhi are a source of consolation. “When I despair I remember all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fail. Think of it always”.
God bless you!,
Most Rev. Dr. M. Devadass Ambrose
Bishop of Thanjavur