You can remove a man from society but you cannot remove society from the man. Truer words have never been said. Even if you are shipwrecked and lonely on an island à la Robinson Crusoe, you will be straitjacketed about doing your morning business out there in the open. But that is how we human beings are created. We learned the meaning of modesty right there in the Garden of Eden, and it has hounded us ever since. Of course, the depth to which social consciousness exists in the human race varies from person to person, but it exists in everyone, without a doubt.

And yet, it is almost embarrassing to see how many people we meet everyday are totally ignorant of social ethics. They are conscious about society, all right, but they are simply baboon-like when it comes to obeying the unwritten social ethics that society has laid down since Genesis. Why the differences? Simply because everyone is not made aware of social ethics in the same manner. Social ethics are a part of a person's cumulative education, and that, of course, depends on observation. Different people observe in different measures, and that's the reason everyone has a different notion of social ethics.

Let us embark on a mammoth task now. Standardizing social ethics. Learning the right kind of social ethics. That's one thing that has never been attempted before. But let me try. We have to begin somewhere - this could be a good precursor to all the Neanderthals out there, a sort of launching pad. Don't worry; I'll make this quick and painless ;-).

# 1: Share

John: There's a hungry man outside, Mamma. Asking for food.
Mother: Give him your sandwich, dearie. I'll make you another.
Father: Yeah, all right. Just make sure you don't give him anything more from the larder. And ask if he can help me mow the lawn.

We are creatures living in a very symbiotic society. As such, we need to share. Give and take. And that becomes the first social ethic we need to learn. When you give something to a deserving person, it does come back to you in some way or the other. It's not necessary to give something material. Sometimes a smile or a pat on the shoulder could be the best gift you could give.

But remember to give within limits. Too many gifts can spoil a person. And you will be perennially hounded for more and more help. Give, but within limits; and when you have given, do expect some kind of repayment, directly or indirectly.

# 2: Acknowledge

Mother: How did school go today, John?
John: Oh, it was fun! Mrs. March actually praised my show-and-tell.
Mother: God bless her soul!
Father: Certainly! I am sure little Johnnie will be getting much more schoolwork done now. If only that big boss of mine would appreciate what I chip in for his firm...

Society is built when people begin praising each other's talents. Whether we are talking about the President or a newspaper boy, they are giving something to make this society roll. That is why it is extremely important to give everyone their due credit. I don't know about you, but when someone praises me for an article I write, I am just egged on to write a better one. So, whether it is a schoolboy or your grandma, they need their acknowledgment to work better for you.

# 3: Participate

John: Mamma, Justin's folks are having a garage sale this Saturday.
Mother: Yes, I know. Gina told me. I am baking some cookies for the sale, John.
John: Can I be with Justin on Saturday? There's no school as it is.
Mother: Sure! I'll be there too, anyway.
Father: Hope I can do something useful too. Now let me see what...

Living is fun when you live together. I am not speaking just about family, but the whole society, in general. Helping the Joneses out in their events is always fun, especially if you know that they will help out with yours too. Of course, we must not be meddlesome, and must understand when we are not required. Being human, you will have an inner sense of understanding that. Participation is required on a national and global level also. We must be aware of our politics and civics, know our rights and duties, and perform them wholeheartedly. Social ethics demands that we make a collective effort at success, like ants lifting a heavy tidbit of food. That's how companies and nations succeed - doesn't matter what size they are. Unity is strength.

# 4: Assert

John: It's Rupert again, Mamma.
Mother: What did he do now?
John: He ran away with my lunch box and emptied it behind a tree.
Father: So, did you fight him back, or simply came running here to mamma?
Mother: Peter!

It's like driving on the freeway. Even if you are sure you are driving like a real good taxpaying and law-abiding citizen, some speed maniac might come and mutilate your rear fender. Or the front hood if you are not so lucky. Is it worth being a Sad Sack about it? Not at all! We must at least have a tongue to speak out that we are in the right. And prove that to the authorities. Of course, we must not go the mafia way about it - that will only compound matters and snowball into unbearable things - but we must at least assert when we haven't done anything wrong.

When our nation's integrity is threatened by outside forces, what do we do? Sit back and watch Nickelodeon? No, we give it back every bit. However, in the routine walk of life, we do not actually fight, but we must surely Get up, stand up... Stand up for your rights... (thanks, Bob, you said it for me.)

# 5: Accept

John: I won the elocution too, Mamma. Here's the medal.
Mother: Lovely, John! Really!
Father: Wish someone would give me something for busting my bottom too.
Mother: Peter, why don't you learn to be a bit more optimistic and less grumpy about things? I think you are getting old.
Father: Ah! Let's not put back our snorkeling vacation anymore then.

Tell me frankly, how many weeping willows do you meet in a day? I am talking about those typical people who always carry some sort of complaint on their shirt sleeve. The government is going to the dogs, the traffic is gone bonkers, elections are a whole lot of garbage, bureaucracy is sickeningly crazy, etc. etc. Don't you just get tired of just listening to these grievances? But then, you will be surprised at how many times you complain yourself.

What we must actually do is, put our hands together and try, in whatever small way we can, to better the society we live in. Do anything we can. Plant a tree for all it takes. But do something to improve the quality of life. And, miraculously enough, when we actually do something constructive - I mean, something socially benefiting for which we are not paid any green bucks - we will be amazed to see how much more acceptable we become of the society we live in.

Social ethics are a very complex subject, and there cannot be any parallels drawn in the way different people must behave. But it does pay to be responsible for the society we live in, and endeavor to make a better place to live in.