Society exists for the perfection of man. It is the mean for the attainment of physical and mental, moral and spiritual welfare of man, and as such, must be changed from time to time to suit circumstances. If at any time, it is found that it hinders rather than helps the progress of man, it must be reformed. Change’ is essential, otherwise, we shall be sacrificing the end for preserving the means, which would be wrong. Society moves on, stagnation for it means death.
Just as there are diseases in the physical body, so there are diseases in the social organism, and these diseases must be eradicated, so that society may fulfill the object for which it exists.
Pakistani society has felt the need for change. There is discontent with the existing state of things, and people feel keenly that there are certain serious obstacles arising out of the peculiar structure of society, and certain prejudices, which stand in the way of our progress. As a result of this dissatisfaction, revolutionary changes are being vigorously suggested and gradually carried out to readjust society to the new conditions. Various organizations and bodies are at work to introduce reforms among the various classes and communities which form the Pakistani people.
Some of the crying evils of Pakistani society are the rigidity of the caste system, untouchable system, the depressed classes, female ignorance, and the condition of the widows. The evils of intemperance, the vice of gambling, and houses of il-fame are, also, a menace to our physical and moral well-being. Early marriage is sapping the foundations of society.
These are some important directions in which the social reformer is seeking to improve society. It is a pity that this zeal for reform is confined as yet to a small section of the educated community whose minds have been liberalized by modern ideas, and that the vast bulk of our people, being illiterate and ignorant, are not only lukewarm, but vehement opponents of all change. Needless to say that conservatism which opposes all change. However beneficial, and which shuts its eyes to all evils, however flagrant, serves as a drag on society, and ought to be depreciated.
We must remember that change is the law of Nature, as Tennyson says:
The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
For God fulfills Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Even a good custom must change, for in course of time it becomes corrupt, and unsuited to the new times.
However, it must be borne in mind that all reform should be slow and gradual. In a vast country like Pakistan, with so many classes and communities, this caution should be specially kept in view. The reformers should carry the masses along with them, otherwise over-zeal for reform would create schism and divisions, and the remedy may prove worse than the disease. The next thing is that attempts should he made to reform, and not to re-fo m. that is, in changing the customs of society, we should not destroy the whole thing, and raise a new structure altogether. We must build on the foundations which are firm and true. Wholesale destruction can never succeed. Thirdly, all reform to he lasting must come from within, Mere imitation of the West, or mere mechanical outward changes will not do any good. There must be a change of heart, a change in the angle of vision brought about by a wisely regulated system of education, and then alone, will reform be real and useful.