Virtues of Being ‘Correct’

On being academically and grammatically correct

By Firdous Ahmad Mala 

AUTHENTICITY, brevity and correctness are my A, B and C of academic excellence. These are among the several possible academic virtues one can aspire for. Absence of any of these is akin to being unworthy of being labeled academically sound and intellectually upright. Only the good and academically correct deserve acclaim and applause. One is supposed to be well-versed with the art and science of dotting all the “i”s and crossing all the “t”s in pursuit of academic excellence.

Take the example of the act of writing. It often happens that if we fail to express clearly what we intend to express, there will be many a slip between the cup and the lip. One does not and should not expect oneself to be popular with the listeners if one is bereft of the gift of gab or if one writes, but is not versed with the ingredients that bring about good and praiseworthy write ups.

As per Ruskin Bond, India is in danger of producing more writers than readers. This could be due to several possible reasons. These include the advent of self-publishing avenues and the access to a plethora of digital tools that simplify the art of writing. As a matter of fact, writing is becoming more of a mechanical process than the art of being able to express through the tongue that which lies in the heart. The sad part of the tale is the fact that despite the availability of accessible-writing-tools and a quantum of examples to learn from, many of us are still butter-fingered when it comes to writing. This is a very sad state of affairs.

Regarding speaking, one who speaks and knows not what or how to speak makes others loathe and detest the practice of lending one’s ears to others.

Irresponsible speeches can be disastrous to say the least. In the words of Napoleon Hill, “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” Speaking ad nauseam is very likely to do more harm than any good.

In the words of Dorothy Sarnoff, “Make sure you have finished speaking before your audience has finished listening.”

Regarding the exercise of power, one must be wise enough to know that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Misuse of power and making the irrational overpower the rational is never long-lasting. Correctness, rationality and being sensible apply equally to all, irrespective of being in power or being subjugated. As per Patricia Cornwell, abuse of power is the root of all evil. Correctness vis-à-vis power means being just, kind, understanding and rational.

Apart from the endeavors of writing, speaking and exercising one’s power, it is almost evident that for all other endeavors, correctness is a prerequisite.

The importance of being correct is difficult to overemphasize. In the words of Stephen Jay Gould, “A man does not attain the status of Galileo merely because he is persecuted; he must also be right.”

The author is an Assistant professor, Govt. Degree College Sopore and can be reached at [email protected] 


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