Means and Ends…


The means maybe likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree.

The inviolable connection between the seed and the tree is as undisputable as the connection between a mother and her child. The dependence of the end on the means is a more clear implication of the connection between a seed and a tree and the bond between the mother and her child. It is the scientific fact that a bad seed will produce a bad or a weak tree or in a worse case the life of the seed may end before it starts.

The question that often crosses my mind is that- is it right perhaps to attribute the whole and sole credit of a full grown tree only to its seed? What about the other elements of air, water, sunlight and manure that have contributed to its being? What about the human effort that nutured its growth? Thus at this stage it would seem more appropriate to attribute the growth of a tree to the whole process. But come to think of it, the initiation of the process is the seed. We may want to attribute the end result of the tree to the whole process of growth but how can we forget that the growth begins only with the seed.

This is just one instance, an example perhaps which evokes a thought about the end justifying the means. It is just a drop in the ocean of justification! For every result and for every end to be achieved, there is a certain path which is followed and that path has a starting point. The question we have to ask ourselves is that does the end owe itself to the originating point of the path it treads? Does the end justify its means?

In this complex interplay of one thought questioning another, the striking factor remains the unbreakable and unique bond between the means and the end to which it serves. The end is a mere puppet in the hands of the means, where the threads of the end are wound around the means.

Interestingly, there can be moral connotations attached to the same. Whether the means are just and morally right, raising questions about whether it is right to give up your virtues and dignity to progress at the work front. There is the casting couch; there is bribery, corruption, treason, cheating and everything else which fits into the bandwagon of immoral acts. What it leads to is nasty revelations, inefficient white collared baboos occupying the top slots in the government with there incompetency staring at you in the face. If the means is rectified and checked in time then the outcome at the end can definitely be improved. We often hear people say that issues have to be dealt at the grass root level, this again reiterates the same thing, if means are altered then the end can be favourable.

It is imperative to understand that there is a unique relation between the means and the end of something and it is also important to understand what that connection denotes. This is a universal phenomenon and is thus duely applicable to all spheres of human existence.

A well nourished child will grow into a healthy adult.

An intelligent investment will lead to good returns.

A good seed will result in a good tree.

A good deed will be rewarded.

A well governed society will lead to development.

It was on pretty much the same lines that Newton proclaimed in his 3rd law that to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Every end owes itself to a means. It is no farce when it is said that as you sow so shall you reap.

Life is a full circle and it is a tree only which will serve the seed for another tree.

Rishika Baruah