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Unity is strength? Like Hell!
Am I Wrong?
Since time immemorial, we have been spreading the idea that unity is something to strive for, as it can make us achieve faster, whatever we are striving for. Many of the posters proliferating our working places and other areas, such as the ones shown below, are only intended to popularize this.
Enter, the Idea of Unity
I think, to a large extent as a result of such influences, ‘unity is strength’ has come to be accepted as a maxim, that too without any critical examination. Its influence now permeates into all activities of the society, especially in left leaning states. Quite palpable is the presence of this, visible in organized resistance against real or perceived dangers, which, though detrimental to harmony and peace of the society and many a time horribly destructive in nature, is tolerated by general populace as good examples of the great power of unity.
(Whether this tolerance is worthwhile and, is this ‘resistance’ yielding something, are questions that need to be examined afresh. If we compared the state of any society before this ‘organized resistance’ and after a certain time gap, we might find the present state better off. But that doesn’t show that the society is not worse off compared to what could have been the present state of the society, had that ‘resistance’ not taken place)
What is wrong with it?
The idea that unity is strength, I think originated when some of our ancestors saw around them instances like, say a big animal like lion getting caught in a spider web or a huge carcass easily moved by a colony of ants, leading them to the idea that when the insignificant things happen in groups, they can change something big. Notably in the instances that struck them, the result of unification was visibly empowering in nature. And we have come to accept it as an adage applicable to all living beings.
Let us re-examine this aphorism starting with a rather simpler form of life, a plant. Imagine we sow a group of seeds. On germination, if they are planted suitably dispersed with plentiful availability of essential needs like sunlight, water or other nutrients, the seeds are sure grow into healthy plants or trees that provide good yield. If not, the lack of the basic needs shall cause the plants’ growth to be stunted and shall give rise to unhealthy trees, greatly affecting the yield. Such is the case with everything that has life. In the case of plants, the influence of factors other than the generally identified needs of sunlight, air, water and nutrients have already been noticed as significant for healthy growth, the Indian scientist Dr Jagdish Chandra Bose being a pioneer in this field. Also, even before the advent of any such scientific findings or discovery, all the essential parts of farming used to be governed by certain traditional observances, fables and other sayings that more or less is a hidden treasury of logical thoughts and concepts.
Quite rational also is our approach to the question of breeding and caring for farm animals. The size of such farms, its location, physical composition as well as the techniques employed in raising stock are guided by similar principles. Sufficient importance can be seen to be ascribed to provision of adequate free area or space for each animal to grow unhindered, in addition to, plentiful sunlight, fresh air and other natural amenities taking a prime position.
But when it comes to human life, we certainly are deviating from such examples of good logic. Not only that the methods adopted to nurse human babies deviate from this, but also the human parents are showing a clear affinity towards techniques and patterns that are restrictive in nature, even when those are detrimental to happy growth. Forgetting all that we did for facilitating robust growth in other forms of life, we seem to be on an ardent search to find novel ways of augmenting human capability, to offset the loss caused by our restrictive approach! And I think, from a large multitude of such reasoning, inferences and syllogisms floating around in our literary wealth, the maxim ‘unity is strength’ came to be appropriated to support such a move, to make marginal improvements in our capability without the need to effect any actual improvement in human capacity. In short, unity generates an apparent feeling of being strengthened.
Why did we Choose the Wrong idea?
However, in places where the proverb ‘unity is strength’ might be found matching, there are other proverbs like “faith will move mountains’, or ‘practice makes perfect’, which could have been fitting the idea much more aptly. Or why didn’t we think of the benefits of individuality and make an effort to popularize that? Why did we continue to forget the prime position of direction or leadership in the achievement of success? Or why such posters like these are not in wide circulation?
More than that, we still go on with ‘unity is strength’ as a rational maxim, especially in human affairs. Why did we choose to go with the irrational? That too, overlooking all its ill effects?
There must be a reason. Either ‘unity’ enabled us in achieving something great, which we now know is not true, or it empowered us to delay or avoid something inconvenient, which I think, is the true reason.