I’m going to start this post with something of a history lesson that relates to a part of my A2 Greek Prose set text. The text in question is excerpts from Book 8 of Herodotus’ Histories, describing The Battle of Salamis, a small island off the Attic coast close to Athens, fought between the Greeks and the invading Persian (modern-day Iran) army. Herodotus tells of how the Greeks overcame their opponents despite their smaller forces and slower ships by fighting with discipline and according to formation whereas their opponents were neither in formation nor working to a plan. As I was analysing how Herodotus draws out this contrast to make the Greeks seem more heroic, it struck me that the major reason for the Greek victory was that they were united; the Persians had no desire to work together, since the vast majority of their forces had been forced into fighting.
I think this throws up one idea that we are perhaps guilty of over-quoting in life and not acting on: the need for unity. This tenet has not been made more apparent to me than when attending shakha. It is only rarely that any progress can be achieved by one karyakarta putting in effort to organise karyakrams for the swayamsevaks and sevikas whilst the others continually remain in the background. I believe that this leads to another problem: if one person is left on their own to carry out a task without any help from others who probably should be helping them, it is possible that the person left on their own will give up due to lack of support. I have on a number of occasions heard conversations along these lines:
“Are you going to do X?”
“Who else is doing X?”
“Just me and A, for now.”
“Well, if it’s just you and A, I might as well not bother.”
Whatever X is, it’s quite possible that it isn’t going to happen after conversations such as this. On the face of it, idleness breeds more idleness, but initiative doesn’t always lead to more initiative.
It’s quite possible that Herodotus again provides the answer to this in the very same book of his Histories I quoted earlier. The vast majority of the Greek ships were retreating in the battle until Ameinias of Pallene, an Athenian man, decided to break the trend of his fellows and attack the Persians. I am not for one moment condoning the use of violence merely because others aren’t behaving in that way; even if other people in our position are being apathetic, it doesn’t mean that we should also be apathetic. Instead, I think we must try and imitate the example of Ameinias and take the initiative, whether that is within a group project at school, college or even in the workplace, or within shakha or in any other walk of life. That is not the whole picture though. What did the other Greeks do? It certainly wasn’t anything along the lines of the conversation I highlighted above. They all came up in support of Ameinias, bringing about the situation which I described at the start of this post. So, when someone takes the initiative to do something, don’t sit on the fence or take a step back; join them and help them (within reason, of course).
I’d like to conclude this post with a quote from Param Poojaneeya Shri Guruji: “It is the coming together of little things in an organised manner that always goes to make a great thing. Great characters do not come up as ready-made products in a day. They are built silently and their glorious heights scaled inch by inch and step by step.”
Sanghatan Mein Shakti Hai – In unity, there is strength.