Social Work : The Ethico-Spiritual Paradigm ► [03] Problems & Predicaments

Posted: 14.06.2005

III. Problems & Predicaments

Postmodernism thus threatens to unhinge man from his rootedness and relatedness and makes him a jetsam and flotsam of history. It confronts man with a nihilistic angst which cannot be endured perennially. Social work can no longer confine itself to finding solutions to only mundane problems. It is true that in the super affluent era of globalisation, there is still widespread poverty, misery, degradation and stagnation, which clamour for immediate and effective remedial measures, which are technologically possible. Social work must strive whole-heartedly to grapple with the structural bottlenecks that precipitate these conditions.

However, man today is helplessly caught in a whirlpool of new problems which challenge his very essence and existence. Social Work will be able to countenance those problems only when it expands its bailiwick to include also the higher domains and dimensions of human life. It must develop an overarching spiritual perspective which adds meaning to its synergistic and ecological elements.

Postmodernism has cast man adrift in a sea of doubt. Man cannot survive as a wanderer in a purposeless void. Like vegetations he needs an anchorage in the soil of absolute and eternal values. Had the cosmos been a mere theatre of the absurd, evolution would have ceased at the level of inconscient matter and life with a higher mission would not have emerged. Life represents a protest against the repetitive mechanisms of the universe.

Social work must learn to deal not only with what has been actualised in human nature but also with what lies dormant and waiting. The first imperative is to undeniably recognise the presence and power of these unlimited potentialities in human personality. The latent realities of human existence seek to express themselves in human yearnings and aspirations, which no intellectual exercise can suppress and no radical scepticism can eradicate.

Globalisation scenario and postmodernist thought-patterns can affect only the superficial dimensions of man and not the deep urges embedded in his existence. The ceaseless quest for ultimate values like truth, beauty and goodness are not socially and historically produced or subjectively constructed, they are there as absolutely given categories. Man is intrinsically endowed with the capacity to transcend historicity and temporality, and his ego-bound narrow selfhood. The problem with the Western scholars is that they cannot go beyond normal waking consciousness, which has its concrete and abstract data content garnered from senses and intellect.

The spiritual adventure undertaken by countless sages and seers including Christ and Buddha reveal that there is a transcendent realm of pure being where all differences and diversities melt into an all encompassing unity, the one and many becoming one. Their supreme resolve and unsurpassable striving to have a vision of reality led them to the summit of transpersonal consciousness which unravelled to them the mystery of existence in all its wholeness and conferred on them an omniscience-like wisdom. Their communion with this inexhaustible reservoir of power and light equipped them to act indefatigably and think and speak instinctively and unerringly. They were the saviours of the human race, indeed of all life and lived and burned for the weal and welfare of all planetary beings. They were the greatest social workers in human history whose perfect doings flowed from their perfect being.

Social work in order to become a flawless and faultless enterprise must reshape itself so as to be able to tread the path paved by them. It is their words embodying eternal verities that can disentangle social workers from the cobwebs of confusion and ambiguity and provide them the life force to accomplish their role of liberation and emancipation.

Every nation and society has been hallowed by such spiritual heroes to act as a beacon light and as such their messages must not be allowed to be lost in the cacophonies of modern-day prophets and purveyors of panacea. PSW must purge itself of all dubious doctrines that it has borrowed from alien sources taking them as gospel truths and base itself on the foundational truths propounded on its own soil, then and then only can it become a living force capable of delivering the goods and acceptable to the people at large, then only can it take a quantum leap and become an omnipotent instrument of genuine social transfiguration from within.

Any social gains achieved by PSW through borrowed models tend to mutilate local culture and destroy its bases of innovation and creativity. Every culture is a unique phenomenon, dynamic and ever developing, the product of an evolutionary process spanning millenniums. This cultural identity is in danger of being eroded by the steamrolling effect of globalisation. Social Work can enhance its relevance and like ability only by committing itself to safeguarding the vital interests of each local culture. Protection of cultural integrity is imperative, for its fragmentation causes personality disintegration. People love their culture as much as their life and are always prepared to make any sacrifice to ward off all forces that appear to endanger it.

Social Work in its professional as well as non-professional incarnation must remain in perpetual readiness to accommodate these emerging roles and responsibilities in its spectrum to measure up to the new challenges. The ubiquitous, unconscionable violence has made life insecure and hangs on human consciousness like an incubus. Eco-system faces collapse and planetary life extinction if we don't rein in our unrestrained rapacious instincts.
Social Work must break out of its circumscribing pedestrian role model and seize with these critical situations.
Social Work will betray its mission and forfeit its raison d’être if it shies away from adventures and risk-taking and continues its habituation to enjoy the sunshine of passive neutrality.

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