Most of us are striving for improvement or if lazy then at least fantasize of it. It’s a basic instinct of humans to hope & work towards betterment. Improvement of his/her self, family, friends, race, tribe, community or an idea they hold close. The extent of how much one influences may vary. Depending on how one views themselves and the intensity of an effort they are putting in the cause. We also have to consider the part of destiny too. Hence though the level of contribution varies from person to person but still everyone is adding into something they consider to be “good”. So, the question arises of how each one of us defines good & betterment. What are the standards that we check against and define what’s right or wrong? How do we know which actions point towards the True North, or even if it exists? This may sound too philosophical or a question which can have unlimited answers depending on different perspectives. But hold on, the intention of this writing is to elaborate a known definition of betterment which resonates the collective human consciousness.

Starting from the basics. We may agree that even if each one of us has a different approach in life, people can be grouped into few classes. This is to simplify in understanding how we relate to our closest loyalties. Some of us are working to improve ourselves, whatever one does is to make things good for him/herself. Others are doing so for their families, grinding day & night to provide for them. That’s their entire world. While for some their association to a certain lineage, tribe or community is what defines them. They feel a great discomfort to accept that their community has some behavioural flaws or that there are better ways to handle issues than the ones their community has adopted. It hurts them emotionally to accept the shortcomings of their community as they define their identity in the reflection of their own communities. Hence each of us has their deepest loyalties attached to something/ someone. Let’s see the real outcome of this. If we observe in ourselves & around, we shall find that till we are able to feel things improving for our circle of concern whether it be self, family, friends, race, or community we tend to be less concerned of how these actions are impacting the ones outside. So, to say it’s the closest association to something which dictates the reasoning we develop to justify our actions. Like its not actions are carried out because of a well thought out process but the actions are carried out in line of the predetermined bias (depending on how we have defined our circle of concern & where loyalties lie). And then the reasoning follows to defend that action. Or to say our arguments are framed so as to defend the actions we are taking to maintain our associations. Hence by these actions we naturally tend to become more groupish in our ways, defining things between “us” & “them”.

In this regard, Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University concluded a very renowned research. His findings covered how people evaluate the evidence of their everyday experience to make judgments & form beliefs or make decisions. And as you might have guessed, he found people have strong bias & a pre-set mindset. And their evaluation of evidence is based on a basic question that arises in their mind when they face an experience. Can I believe it? Or must I believe? And so generally people will just outright reject an argument if it lies in opposition to their beliefs without giving any thought on it. And instead they will be looking out for arguments that affirm their beliefs, confirming what they already believe in. He called this the mother of all biases.

Let’s see what these pre-set strong biases in us yield. Transgressions at personal, community or larger scales are backed by apologists defending them. The ones being affected & some others who are more aware do see these as wrong but there are always a considerate number who would back these actions as being “acceptable”. And in their minds they don’t think of themselves as evil, it's not like what movies depict where the hero & villain are clearly defined. The one playing the villain thinks of him/herself as the devil too but in the real world they mostly see themselves as the saviours or righteous. Hence for such in their self reflection their intentions are always good.

So, at a smaller scale nepotism, leg pulling, negativity & others. And collateral damage, dictatorship, fact distortion, public emotional manipulation using populist stances at larger scale. All these actions are backed by flowery yet misleading arguments. And the spin doctors play their roles, justifying how it is all for the “greater good”. Or they may say that it’s the “best available solution”. There are two cases I see here, either the definition of good they have is limited to them & their friends or this behaviour is actually the representation of a historic belief. A belief that it is not the means you adopt to get to your destination which matters. The results matter & that’s all to it. Also, that the ultimate good does not relate to what is done to get it. A famous proverb perfectly relates to such desperate attempts which fail to regard the means.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”- A Hand-book of Proverbs

Do you see a fundamental concern here? It's not that each one of us is not desiring improvement. It's that different people have the purest of their loyalties associated with different things & mostly that without a concern for how these affect ones outside of it. And hence though everyone is trying to improve something in some way the realities are harsh & we are generally pulling against each other. Negativity, polarization, hatred & self righteousness are the outcomes. The real word will always have humans with their purest loyalties tied to something & will as a result try to pull against each other too. But what turns these tendencies to pull against each other into an ugly reality is the non existence of functional systems. Functional systems mean systematically designed rules of the game. A well-designed system will be inclusive to all (incorporating the interest of different people in one or another way) & yet provide a streamlined mechanism to move together & forward. These systems can exist at an institutional, community or state level. Hence places where we find these inclusive & smartly designed systems functional, we observe the outcomes such as professionalism, business friendliness, inspiring success stories, organized traffic & ques. On the other hand, where people have failed to come together to develop functional & smartly designed systems, we find unprofessionalism, rigidities towards idea development, brain drain, chaotic traffic & ques. So, the next question arises on how can we get to such effective & inclusive systems? Do we just copy & paste these foreign systems? Or improvements are pending till the rise of a saviour? Or to say this will be an evolutionary process where we will collectively go through both, good & bad experiences over a stretch of time. And as whole people will learn what has worked & what has not worked. And only if we have been trying hard enough & in the direction of the True North then the collective consciousness will ultimately reach a benchmark. And naturally when humans feel pushed against the wall & the time is right, they tend to try the hardest. Wasn’t it till the Congress came into power in 1937 & spewed its bias so clearly that Muslim League under Jinnah gained the popularity it needed to break the threshold? So, when the time is right the efforts of certain concerned & able people will get the recognition it needs. And a sense that we are close to something will build across the minds. And when this reaches a specific limit, people from across social, economic & ideological brands will finally concede to the need that they need to come up with a solution; a functional, inclusive & smartly designed system. This will be the tipping point of the evolutionary curve. The point on the graph where you can spot the jump in the curve.

So, what to do now? Is there anything we can do right now? How about if me & you try to align ourselves more & more to the True North or the absolute truth. An ideal but not an abstract concept. And since all of us do have certain pre-set biases, the criterion of True North has to come from something larger. The collective human consciousness has historically recognized this True North. The North helps to realign our biases. And as a result with time the rebellious attitude towards acceptance fades. Then something new happens. And we naturally start to observe the compass that’s inbuilt in all of us. And that inbuilt compass in each one of us mostly knows the larger good & bad. Stephen Covey mentions that there are certain eternal principles of this universe which bring results when worked on no matter the scale. These being fairness, dignity, service, gratitude and encouragement. And these are not limited to a certain community. But are part of all the major philosophies, divine religions & the very own existence of humans. Majority of individuals regardless of what era they were born in, or where they live, how they were brought up by their families still have a clear concept of these eternal principles of goodness. And these 5 basic principles of good are what matter the most in shaping homes, work places, communities & states. Collectively these principles of good can trigger a snowball effect of the awaited change.

The concept that a fundamental belief of right & wrong is in the very nature of each one of us is also endorsed by Prophet Muhammad (SAW). “Virtue is a kind peace at heart and sin is what bothers you in your heart and that you are concerned that people would come to know of it,” context of a narration by Hassan Ibn Ali (RA).