While reading Albert Einstein’s “Ideas and Opinions”, which is a book dedicated to Einstein’s most inherent thoughts , I was impressed by his insights into the social and communal aspects of human beings. The extract below is from this book – a section that specifically resonated with me. It brings to light the ways in which human beings are interconnected and that if one is left in total isolation let alone creativity but life itself would be meaningless. Everything we do is in some ways depended on the community we live in and bringing social change is possible only by affecting and influencing the masses.
However, although the state is usually seen as a change-agent, groups of individuals or private organisations are more prominent in taking action towards betterment of societies.
The portrayal of ‘good’ in the excerpt below, according to Einstein, is judged based on the effect of positivism one contributes to their community. Not everyone will be successful in influencing the reach it takes to bring about positive change but if one is thought of as a ‘good’ human being they must have the intention of promoting the well being of other people.
This excerpt is taken from the chapter Society and Personality:
“When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human society, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave. A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts, and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to his attitude in this respect.””