Self-Development of Individual or Community Does Not Imply Closing Off of Diversity

Humanity frequently takes a principle or concept to an extreme so that it becomes an exclusive “law” that denies the validity of other principles or concepts; however, this tendency does not align with the complexity and interdependence of all existence.  We find in actuality that apparently contradictory principles are varying aspects of a more complicated truth than our linear mental process usually tries to grasp or embrace.  Thus, the idea that the individual should be able to freely develop his capacities and his growth is often used as an excuse to suppress, deny or oppress others who have different views; whereas it needs in reality to be tempered by an appreciation of the contributions offered by those who have a different focus, value set, or viewpoint.  Similarly, the self-development of a community grouping, state or nation is not to be taken as a license to deny, oppress or suppress the free variation of other such groupings which collectively make up the complex picture of humanity.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “Nor does this right to be oneself mean with the nation or community any more than with the individual that it should roll itself up like a hedgehog, shut itself up in its dogmas, prejudices, limitations, imperfections, in the form and mould of its past or its present achievement and refuse mental or physical commerce and interchange or spiritual or actual commingling with the rest of the world.  For so it cannot grow or perfect itself.  As the individual lives by the life of other individuals, so does the nation by the life of other nations, by accepting from them material for its own mental, economic, and physical life; but it has to assimilate this material, subject it to the law of its own nature, change it into stuff of itself, work upon it by its own free will and consciousness, if it would live securely and grow soundly.  To have the principle or rule of another nature imposed upon it by force or a de-individualising pressure is a menace to its existence, a wound to its being, a fetter upon its march.  As the free development of individuals from within is the best condition for the growth and perfection of the community, so the free development of the community or nation from within is the best condition for the growth and perfection of mankind.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle: The Psychology of Social Development, Chapter 7, The Ideal Law of Social Development, pp. 70-71