Example is Better than Precept. Proverb-Type Essays, Expansion of Ideas,

Example is Better than Precept.

Proverb-Type Essays, Expansion of Ideas,

Outline: Precept is easy and common - precept is usually ineffective, because it is not supported by example - example is better than precept. 

One of the things most commonly and generally offered to others is precept or moral instruction. Parents continually advise children on how to get on in the world; teachers are never tired of instructing students to behave well; politicians constantly exhort their countrymen to do this or that or not to do this or that, and even novelists often preach under the guise of telling stories. Unfortunately, much  of this advice falls flat. It is not taken seriously and it is hardly acted upon. 


One important reason why much of the percept in the world falls on deaf ears is that it is not reinforced by example. How can a sick doctor inspire confidence among his patients? How can a piece of advice sound convincing when it is not followed by the preacher himself? In fact, inconsistency between profession and practice often raises laughter. A habitual drunkard solemnly advising others to give up drink, a man attired in an expensive suit of foreign cloth recommending the use of Khaddar, a society lady given to extravagance pleading for simple living and high thinking. These are examples in which the precept offered is flouted by the preacher himself and hence is ineffective and even ridiculous. 


If a preacher wants his sermon to be followed, he must try to be a living embodiment of it. Mahatma Gandhi's teachings: evoked countrywide enthusiastic response, because he practised them himself. He did not merely ask the people to lead a simple life, he himself tried to live like a poor Indian peasant and thereby set an example. He did not merely exhort the people to spin and use Khaddar. He spun everyday and wore Khaddar made by himself. 


Nor did he merely recommend non-violence; he tried to be non-violent in thought, word and deed. Example, thus, is better than precept. It may be combined with precept, but even by itself it would be eloquent and effective. 


A Minister living in a luxuriously furnished bungalow and moving about in an imported car has no right to advise others to tighten their belts. If he sincerely wants others to practise austerity and economy, he needn't even ask them to do so, but should cut down his expenses on pomp and luxury. A living example is more effective than empty words. 


Difficult Words: Get on - succeed. exhort - advise earnestly. under the guise of - pretending to. falls that - fails to impress. acted upon - practised. reinforced - supported, strengthened. attired - dressed. flouted - mocked at, disobeyed. evoked - called forth. to tighten one's belt - to live frugally or economically. austerity - simple and plain living.

Expansion of Ideas

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