Downside Risks of Attempting to Implement an Idea Before Its Time

It is a characteristic of human nature to try to bring about the manifestation of an idea in life once it takes form in the mind.  Oftentimes, however, the idea is not aligned closely with the current state of humanity and struggles to gain a foothold in life.  In order to get some position in the world, compromises are then made with the existing powers and this distorts or waters down the original idea.  A more patient undertaking, viewing the readiness of humanity to accept a new idea, would perhaps take longer to implement, but yield a more satisfying and perfect result in the long term.  Such an approach would involve inserting “stepping-stones” into the life of humanity as the banner of the ideal form waves in the somewhat distant future.  History is replete with examples of ideas born prematurely and then distorted through the process of trying to fit in with the mind and life of humanity of the time.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “The sense of this abstractness imposes on the idea an undue haste to get itself recognised by life and embodied in a form.  If it could have confidence in its strength and be content to grow, to insist, to impress itself till it got well into the spirit of man, it might conceivably become a real part of his soul-life, a permanent power in his psychology and might succeed in remoulding his whole life in its image.  But it has inevitably a desire to get as soon as possible admitted into a form of the life, for until then it does not feel itself strong and cannot quite be sure that it has vindicated its truth.  It hurries into action before it has real knowledge of itself and thereby prepares its own disappointment, even when it seems to triumph and fulfil its object.  For in order to succeed, it allies itself with powers and movements which are impelled by another aim than its own, but are glad enough to get its aid so that they may strengthen their own case and claim.  Thus when it realises itself at last, it does it in a mixed, impure and ineffective form.  Life accepts it as a partial habit, but not completely, not quite sincerely.  That has been the history of every idea in succession and one reason at least why there is almost always something unreal, inconclusive and tormented about human progress.”


Sri Aurobindo, The Ideal of Human Unity, Part Two, Chapter 32, Internationalism, pg. 280


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