Sanity is a state of mind that denotes to the rational, reliable and healthy human mind, while insanity refers to an irrational, non-reliable and ill human mind. In today’s’ society sanity is exclusively synonymous with compos mentis which means having the mastery of the mind. Gilbert Keith Chesterton, an English philosopher, lay theologian, and literary critic in his book The Outline of Sanity expresses that sanity involves openness and wholeness, whereas insanity implies narrowness and brokenness. A sane mind is considered healthy both from its rational and emotional aspects.

The perspective of Islamic and English jurisprudence on concept of a ‘sane person’ also refers to an individual who possesses mental faculties and adequate regarding the mental abilities that serve to differentiate between good and evil, gain and loss. When one’s ability to reason and differentiate is impeded, he or she is dismissed even from social from religious responsibilities. The crucial point here is whether, at the time discretion is exercised, the individual has the ability to differentiate between good and evil, gain and loss. Psychologist Erich Fromm in his book The Sane Society, published in 1955, indicated that not just individuals, but entire societies may lack sanity. Erich Fromm argued that one of the most deceptive features of social life involves “consensual validation”. It is naively assumed as a fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity and truthfulness of the ideas and feelings. If millions of people share the same vices, that does not make these vices virtues, likewise sharing so many errors does not covert errors into assets, or slips into strengths, therefore in case millions of people share the same form of ill mental pathology does not make these people sane.

Does sanity prevail in varied social groups of our society? In the last four decades of Pakistan, the said question was always important but it re-earns the utmost significance after December 11, 2019 incident in which lawyers attacked the hospital in Lahore. A flock of individuals dressed in a uniform presenting a legal fraternity, carrying weapons and shafts, calling out names, uttering dirtiest slangs, howling infuriating slogans, and overall exhibiting savagery, turned violent to an extent where sanity had no place. In the aftermath of the incident, society was seen fragmented. The social consciousness was vividly split. The society as a whole was not furious but certain interest groups started justifying and balancing out the act. Multiple debates sparked on different social media platforms where the prevalence of insanity is not under discussion; rather a ping pong of futile and pointless opinions is at its height. Mainstream media is found happy enough having meat to assure serving the news appetite, rating elevation and seem not interested to lament and mourn the social behaviour and to boycott the representatives, supporters, and justifiers of such brutal happenings. The incident has fetched shame for the state in the international arena but we as a society are just debating mislead opinions.

The incident is evidence of educational standards and moral nurturing we are offering in our medical, law, and other schools. It is an eye-opening event for sane minds. It raises another query that in a society where graduated practitioners turn violent and barbaric for meagre reasons, how one can expect politically influenced unionised students to remain positively progressive and wise. In such a situation the verdict of Supreme Court of Pakistan on assuring a signed affidavit by all students to avoid political activities within the institution is absolutely sane judgment and all sane minds must withstand with it. Indeed, parents do not send their kids to become politicians rather professionals in their field to serve themselves, their parents and society at large. Later, political parties have a full prerogative to train individuals to become politicians and must avoid polluting sanctity of educational institutions by encouraging naive minds to fulfil their tawdry party targets.

What does one do now? Firstly, we need to re-democrat our society, which means we need to set some corridors: principal boundaries, to travel on the path of democracy rather than leaving it an open field and let people wander. Allowing anyone to disrupt the routine life of citizens and interrupt system in the name of democracy should be resisted, rejected, and pulled down with an iron fist. To some, it may sound non-democratic but in fact, sanity does not look after to the interests of some groups rather have an umbrella view. Secondly, we need to get serious regarding outcomes we aim to achieve through education. According to Nahj al-Balagha, there are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge merely heard and that which is absorbed. The former has no benefit unless it is absorbed. We need to re-setup to upsurge the absorption of knowledge that is displayed in daily life, instead of a knowledge that is memorised to vomit-out on examination sheets to secure stipulated degree.

We are taught to sacrifice, display love, offer care, stay contented, forgive others, remain balanced, extend help, grow together, and whatnot, but personnel from most of the social institutions lack most of the said qualities. We need to teach sanity as a priority target in and at all levels of education. Sanity that brings-up wisdom and cast-off tribal mindset, that infuses an ability to see the whole picture and do not drown for a fraction of it. We need to teach sanity that permits collectivism of high order and dispirit clannish convictions, undermine and deject consensual validation. We desperately need to teach sanity that allows multiplication of energies embodied in human bodies in the best interest of the society as a whole and disapprove of dividing them; because the divide is devilish and sanity is the only solution.