Commitments shape our lives. Commitments can have rather different forms. A young couple can be committed to each other. A single mother can be committed to raising her children. A teacher might be committed in providing the best education for the students. A father can be committed to providing for his family and ensuring their well-being. Not all commitments are as positive as ones I have mentioned. Some people might be committed in doing crazy things. But for the purpose of this essay I wish to focus on positive commitments and how they change over time.
Commitments bring heavy weights with them. A committed person might realize the need to act on this commitment, however it might be extremely difficult at times. A part of this challenges come from society that we live in. Take for instance an example of aspiring teacher, a fresh gradute from local teaching program. She might might have high aspirations on educating future generation and contributing to society. However, as she tries to do what she loves the most, there would be numerous people who would discourage her by making nasty remarks about low-pay, lack of respect for teachers and lack of jobs. When she arrives home in evening, news agencies are always ready to tell her about numerous bombings, killings and other crazy things around the world. A single such day might not affect the level of commitment in our aspiring teacher much, but continuous bombardments with all this negativity will have its effect. As time goes on, our teacher might question very foundations of her commitments and convince herself of futility of her situation.
Let us understand what we have observed in our story. Why did our teacher lost her initial commitments? I believe that it has to do with social dynamics. Any person who observe nature for sometimes would realize that dynamics of a single object is vastly different form that of multitude objects. Group factor, or social factor in case of humans, add extra layer of complexity on that of individual behavior. In general a social movement can be a source of abundant good as well as evil. Take for instance peaceful movement of Gandhi and Nazi regime of Hitler. Both were massive and influential, however qualities of the influence were completely different. A movement of Gandhi was constructive and contributed to independence of India, while that of Hitler was destructive and contributed to devastation of the world. But one could ask what prevented people led by Hitler from recognizing their wrongdoing? A part of answer lies with social dynamics. When a large number of people are engaged in certain kind of behavior, it might become a norm in that society, even thought it might contradict to the basic tenets of human conscience.
To make the point clearer, let us consider few more examples. Take for instance, mass riots. Sometimes peaceful riots might turn violent, where cars get burned and glasses get shattered. The cause of such behavior might not be barbarity of the protestors. But the cause might have to do with group dynamics which involved at that particular place. On the other hand of fence, we might have policemen shooting rioters. Again these policement might not intend to seriously harm people, but when crowd is running person’s ability of reasoning might undergo significant chages. This examples seems showcase a group dynamics in action.
Does all of this mean that we are just social robots, who are not capable of individual decision making? I hope not. What I wanted to convey is the fact that society exerts much influence on commitment of people. On the brighter side, one could use social component in positive ways by joining communities which facilitate action of one’s commitments. Finally, I wish to remind that a commitment by definition is a personal thing. A society can influence person’s desire to fulfill commitments, however it is up to every person whether he or she will pursue those commitments.