Social fabric & quality of life
SPENDING a considerable time abroad and working with academics, I realized the ultimately goal of life is contentment, happiness, satisfaction with the strategy of Jeremy Bentham’s conception “utilitarianism” and to optimize the quality of life.
Interacting with family, community and society in Pakistan, I realized no one is satisfied, contented or happy with his/ her life.
Whenever a person meets with family members, friends, colleagues and with any person, they feel they are not happy. Rather, they feel lethargic, unsatisfied and complaint about others.
It is hardly realized or analyzed that why this is happening and how it is spoiling quality of the life. Was this aim of life to spend a wealthy, prosperous life in alienation? Ultimately, humans are social beings.
They have to rely on social being naturally but why people are not satisfied still living with nearer and dearer ones?
I realized our social fabric is highly disturbed due to many factors, not limited to the quality of food, lifestyle, no or over interests in social affairs that need a balanced approach.
Social fabric is also disturbed due to economic hardships, high level of inflation, currency devaluation and uncontrolled market economy and limited employment, business or economic productivity.
However, people in Pakistan never realize that their social fabric is highly disturbed due to the latent manifestation and adoption of the modernity.
People believe that traditional social values are contradictory to the current needs of the society and thereby they may be redundant from the social system. They never or hardly realize this is the major cause of the weaking of the social values.
For example, almost everyone is connected with the virtual world, but are not connected with the person sitting next and alienated from his family and society.
Actors may be physically present but virtually absent and connected to someone else. Equally, generation gulf is widening rapidly.
Elders are feeling isolation from the young as well as from their own peer. They feel, if they have interaction, they have to spend money to entertain which (money) is neither available nor wanted to consume.
Everyone is running after the money, wealth, property, power and prestige in Weber’s conception, but nobody ever thinks to repair the social ties and manage his/her social fabric.
Resultantly, anarchy is entered into our social ties and thereby in our social fabric that is damaged immensely and the quality of life deteriorated.
The reflections of the anarchy can be seen on Pakistani roads. For examples, drivers are in hurry. They are intolerant, ignorant about others and just want to be fast to reach their destination where they are already late or due to disturb social fabric.
They wanted to violate rules of the road safety irrespectively thinking how many lives can be hurt due to road rages, rash driving and violation of the laws. They hardly bother if someone is victim of the road crashes or road rages. They need to be self-centred.
Similarly, people are in rush to earn money, wanted to grab property, wealth and control on resources irrespectively how will affect the other’s life or legitimate means. They want to be prominent and get due share in power by any means.
For these achievements, they hardly take care of their social relations and hence their social fabric is fractured. This behaviour brings marginalization, segregation, alienation and dissatisfaction.
Dissatisfaction is compromising the quality of life deeply in Pakistan. I hardly listen the debate, seminar, conference about the quality of life in the country. Public will hardly bother quality of life. Everyone wants a big and modernized vehicle.
With this vehicle, they wanted to show off or to impress others. This person does not only influence others life by inspiring to be part of the rate race or by motivating them to accumulate wealth.
This, nonetheless, severely challenge the contentment of both actors. He/she is also not taking care of one’s own quality of life with luxury and comfortable vehicle.
A person can have a regular exercise, meeting with new parsons, establishing new relations, social ties and establishing the social fabric that may deteriorate due to luxury and comforts of one’s own assets.
It does not mean to negate the luxury but to keep a balance life style and not to disturb other’s lifestyle.
Happiness is not always linked with the wealth and money. It is deeply entrenched in the social ties and social fabrics.
For instance, people may prefer to eat excessive food and we have observed a lot of food ends up into waste bin. This food can be given to the needy, but people leave them in their plates or throw them into the dustbin.
Tons of food is wasted. When a needy person observes such behaviour, they may cultivate animosity against the person as well as society. This hostility may breed hate. Yet, the hate sooner or later turns to severely damage the social fabric of the society.
Contentment, satisfaction with life and happiness is not possible with wealth, knowledge, power and dominance only, but an integral part is strength of the social fabric.
It is a social tie that a person has with family, siblings, community, society and with the global community that binds the person with the society.
This social fabric produces solidarity, cohesiveness and connectedness with social network. This promotes group and social integration.
Managing social fabric may result to improving the quality of life. Quality of life not possible without the social and corporate responsibility. Always, giving ends is encouraged and appreciated that provide contentment, satisfaction and happiness to a person.
This behaviour may improve the happiness index. Contentment, satisfaction and happiness are core indicators to improve the quality of life.
—The writer is Chairman, Department of Sociology at Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.