I was having a discussion with my friend the other day about the gradual disappearance of values that were common enough to be categorised as “norms” ,in our generation. We would smile and greet visitors to our home, talk to the company-less neighbour aunt when mom would be busy in the kitchen preparing snacks for her neighbour friend, lend a helping hand to family and friends in need, offer our seats to the elderly people and younger children in buses etc. And this willingness to respond positively to others in need would come so spontaneously and effortlessly that we wouldn’t even think of them as good manners or favours. That is probably the reason why it hurts so much to see such a drastic shift in the attitudes and behaviour of our younger generation .
“I wonder why so many “educated” men and women are less-than-polite and uncourteous ? Why this sadistic pleasure out of mocking and hurting others? Why this broad grin at someone’s displeasure? Why this arrogant indifference? Why this overt urge to guard oneself? Isn’t kindness and empathy the cornerstone of real education?” , I opened up to my friend. My friend calmly replied “ My dear, Moral education is rarely a part of curriculum these days. People tend to judge children on the basis of marks procured in exams, or in terms of talent. Rarely does society teach good values to children and grade them by character. So, automatically, ethical and moral values gets relegated into the background. It’s us, the society who need to inculcate these values in our future generation.. it’s definitely an urgency to start developing these habits in ourselves and our children these days” How beautifully she had answered my questions .
I have heard moms say “ i am so happy my son/daughter is not sensitive like me” .Makes me wonder “why?” Being sensitive and raising sensitive children is a gift of positive light in today’s world. The need of the hour, really . We have to care enough to see even the slightest of change .Besides, sensitivity is not a synonym for timidity . I have also heard some parents say “ Good that he is not as generous and modest like us… his personality is totally befitting of his times” . So arrogance and a darn-care attitude is the new cool! When parents approve of and permit the exact opposite of what was considered to be the right conduct in our generation , the negative pattern / behaviour becomes the norm. In their bid to protect their children from the “big bad world”, they approve of the shields of selfish shrewdness, arrogant indifference used by their children. On the other hand, they also complain of the dark depressing world that we live in and profess helplessness. I agree its a dark depressing world that we live in loaded with violence and corruption. But i don’t agree with the helpless part . Of course we can help by adding a little more kindness , sensitivity , compassion – light in the dark – by raising conscious, sensitive, compassionate, purposeful kids. They won’t see the change in a day.They will be the harbingers of change. Change will come in time- slow but sure.If every parent thinks of shouldering the responsibility of raising responsible, caring, sensitive, compassionate children to others, how can we ever see any change , any positive tilt?
Ethical values are objective and unchanging. we either conform to them or we don’t. Its true our children wouldn’t get extra marks for good conduct or for being the right kids. Their academic / professional successes wouldn’t be measured by how sensitive or empathetic they are.However, let that not be a de-motivator. Shaping a generation of men and women aware of their responsibilities as sensitive fellow humans is our best chance at adding a little positivity , good spirit,good cheer to our world as compassionate, sensitive mothers/parents. Whoever said that the choice has to be in either, or? Our kids can be assertive ,confident individuals,with a strong sense of judgement AND concerned, sensitive, compassionate world citizens, courageous enough to raise their voice against injustices – all at the same time. I don’t see a contradiction here, do you?
published here earlier : http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/a-mother-s-journal/article/let-s-make-it-a-better-place