Sunday, September 16, 2012

Questioning The Status Quo

An essay for the GRE

The only constant in life is chance, so goes a pithy saying. Indeed, change has been the one thing that has fueled humanity's drive into the future. But change us never easy and requires one to question the status quo, to challenge established norms. This of course, is easier said than done, but the few who have, have changed history.

Consider the movement led by Mahatma Gandhi against the British Raj - he questioned colonial authority and ultimately gave the world a new form of protest. Consider Rosa Parks, the quiet woman who refused to give up her seat in the bus for white passengers and sparked off the Civil Rights Movement. These and other characters in history have one theme in common - they have all challenged accepted wisdom and advanced our understanding of freedom.

The same principle applies to the sciences as well. Had it not been for Prof. Eddington of England, who bravely questioned Newton's work in favour of Einstein's, would we have had the insight into the universe that we do now? Certainly not! here again, it has taken a challenge to the status quo to enrich human understanding.

However, it is important for such challenged to accept certain norms of human equality. After all, the Nazis too questioned the authority of the Weimar Republic with disastrous consequences. Therefore, while questioning authority is indeed a necessary instrument of progress, it is important to objectively judge that progress so that it does not end up unleashing a dystopia.

To conclude, a challenge to authority is a sign of change, but it must be qualified with the understanding that some things, like human rights and freedom, are indeed absolute.

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