From 'I' to 'i'

You have perhaps not given it much thought or noticed it, but take a look at the first personal pronoun ‘I’.

It is always written as a capital letter, while ‘he’ ‘she’ or ‘you’ is capitalised only at the beginning of a sentence. ‘I’ appears to be far more important than ‘you’, ‘we’ or ‘they’ and, strangely, this seems to be in keeping with the natural order of things. Most of us, for most of the time, think far more of ourselves than of others. Unless a person stands to gain something from another, ‘he’, ‘she’ and ‘they’ occupy a secondary position. ‘I’ always stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Let us admit it, selfishness is part and parcel of human nature. There is no one who does not want to look after himself and his interests first, to think, in fact, that he is the most important person in the world. Even the newborn child enters the world crying aloud for attention. His early years are filled with, ‘I want this’, ‘I will do that’ or ‘I will not do that.’ The instinct of self-preservation makes sure that self-interest reigns supreme. It will remain so unless the child is taught and trained to think of others. 

This has to be done both for his sake and that of others too. The selfish, it is true, can gather and retain advantages, but this lasts only for a short while. As the saying goes, ‘no man is an island’. He is dependent on the goodwill and the cooperation of others in order to achieve his goals. If he constantly adopts a belligerent attitude, he is likely to be avoided, ignored and isolated.

Fortunately, the instinct of self-preservation is balanced by the herd instinct and this is what succeeds in making a human humane. There is no one who can live a fulfilling life without the company of others. He needs not only their support, but also longs for acceptance, understanding and appreciation. To a large extent, a person’s identity is affirmed by the opinions that others have of him or her. In other words, we need to share our joys as well as our sorrows. Only companionship brings true fulfillment and happiness. 

To live in a community is to learn how to give and take. This means saying ‘no’ to oneself. It is to sacrifice one’s own will and desires, but it also denotes stepping up to a higher plane of living. The more we succeed in considering the interests of others, in giving up our own wishes to make others happy, the better beings we become. For, in the end, selfishness brings unhappiness and an unselfish attitude great joy. It is hard, no doubt, but fulfilling to write the personal pronoun in the lower case.                       

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