NEGLIGENCE: A MORAL DEFICIENCY

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan I Principles of Life      

It is hard to believe that any animal can be more dangerous or terrifying than the man-eating tiger. But it is not the tiger or the bear who is the most dangerous enemy of man. In truth, the most dangerous of our enemies are the bacteria which are so tiny that they remain invisible to the naked eye. Small they may be, but these bacteria breed at such a furious rate that, given favourable condi­tions, one of them can reproduce itself over 10,000 times within a matter of mere ten hours. While a bear or a lion occasionally eats a man alive, the constant focus of the deadly bacteria is man.

Their species run into thousands. However, we are fortunate that 99 percent of these bacteria are either beneficial or harmless. Although only one percent bacteria are harmful, their deadliness is such that they can claim the life of a man within a matter of seconds. All fatal diseases, according to medical science, are produced by such micro-organisms. Their very lack of bulk makes it possible for them to enter the human system in ways against which man has no natural system of defense.

People are usually aware of the big and obvious dangers and assume that they must be responsible for all their misfortunes. But, if the truth were told, the harm done to us by these tiny living organisms far surpasses any havoc our bigger enemies can wreak. Yet, when we think carefully, we realize that the greatest damage of all is done by those seemingly insignificant and often short-lived moments of neglect—moments when timely action was our duty, when approval needed to be given or withheld, when advice or help or self-appraisal was needed, and we let the occasion slip by, heedless of the consequ­ences. Easy-going moral negligence can creep into our souls, like bacteria into the body, and, if not pulled up short, can become an ingrained attitude, leading to moral corrosion.

A negligent attitude permits people to fritter away their time, day after day, with no thought for the future. Similarly, they squan­der substantial portions of their income. This wasted time and pointless expenditure may seem a trivial matter if it is just a question of one day–a few hours and a few rupees do not seem to add up too much. But if one were to calculate the time and money thus wasted in one year and then in a whole lifetime, it would become clear that almost fifty percent of one’s life and earnings had been squandered in vain pursuits. If we calculate the total wastage of a whole nation, the loss assumes such enormous proportions that it goes beyond our imagination. We should remember: ‘negligence is a moral deficiency.’