While our nation has always hailed the values of freedom and democracy, it is sad to say that their meaning have been misinterpreted in recent past. It is unfortunate to see the youth of the nation questioning the integrity of the tradition and values of our nation, its constitution, its glorious past and governance. All this has been done on the pretext of the ‘freedom of speech’. In the last few years the idea of freedom of speech and expression has been used in more negative sense than positive. It is disheartening to see that the youth of the nation is using this freedom only to criticize and blame our nation. This freedom has given right to anyone to blabber anything they want and feel. I agree that it is good to have an opinion but is it possible that nothing positive is happening which could be praised and appreciated? Is freedom of expression only available to demean and ridicule our own nation? Unfortunately, “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”
We call ourselves Indians with pride and Indians we are. This is our identity which gives us a sense of belonging. Was it easy to attain this identity? No. We human beings first emerged as individuals, then came the idea of relationship, then developed family which later came together to make communities and then came the concept of state which ultimately formed country. Once we become a part of a society we have certain norms, rules and regulations to follow and abide by. These norms and traditions define our culture and make us unique. Patience and sacrifice have been a part of our rich culture. These values have been beautifully intertwined in our tradition. Our myths and legends carry inspiring tales of sacrifices on the part of son for the society (Rama), son for the parents (Shrawana), brothers for each other (Bharat and Laxman for Rama), wife for husband (Sita and Urmila) and there are many more such examples. We have so many examples in the present times also where a son left a very good job in a metro city and came back to his small town to look after his old parents.
But unfortunately,in the recent times our beautiful and rich culture is being marred by atrocious incidents which showcase death of humanity and relationships. 1 out of 10 senior citizens in the world live in India. By 2050, India will have 300 million elderly citizens. India is ageing, but do we care? There are incidents where old parents are being beaten, tortured, harassed and thrown in the old age homes where they helplessly wait for death because no loved one ever comes for them. Children have started questioning their parents instead of appreciating them. It is heart breaking to observe the quick rise in the number of old age homes in our country. If not that then there are cases where a mother was thrown off the terrace because she was not keeping well and in another case the parents were forced out of the house in severe cold. What is this if the children force the parents to move out of their house (home) which they built with lot of struggles. On May 2016, in Delhi, an 85 year old woman was beaten by her 65 year old daughter. In 2014, 50% of elders in India reported abuse. Rakhi, caretaker at an old age home in Gurugram says that there are some families who don’t come even if their parents die.
Why are the values disappearing? Why are we failing to transfer them in our kids? Why aren’t these values being promoted? Why is the youth allowed to misuse the freedom and democracy which was earned with lots of hard work and sacrifice? Why are we becoming selfish and inhuman to the extent that we can sacrifice anyone for our personal gains? It would be unfair to blame one agency for this sad state of affairs. We as a nation should take the blame and a sense of responsibility to rise above this situation. In the name of bringing change and embracing the life of development and luxury we have made ourselves and our kids materialistic. We no more thrive on relationships and bonds rather we need things to survive. Things that were once our wants have become our needs. We have promoted this materialism in the name of advancement and comfort. Instead of becoming easy, life has become devoid of emotions. Youth of today is going far away from the problems of the real world and emotional bonds and is comfortable with the fast track virtual world and its short lived happiness. We have taken away these emotions by confining our kids to nuclear families and to their personal spaces full of facilities. They are growing up fully aware of what they want and how can they acquire it as a part of their right but have no insight of what are their duties and responsibilities as a growing individual of the nation and family.
It is high time that we seek solution and sensitize our youth by emotionally bonding with them instead of overloading them with unnecessary facilities. Let us not suffocate their emotion under materialism. Let us make them realize how to use their freedom judiciously. Before they could smartly and intelligently exercise their freedom of speech and expression they should be made aware of their duties. Let us have conversation with our kids, let us indulge in prolific communication and discussions with them about life and familial bonds. Let us invest our time in them more than our money. Once you do this it will come to you as a surprise that “as you sow, so shall you reap”.
According to Vandana Sehgal, a Personality Enhancement Trainer, parents and teachers play a dominant role in molding the attitude and approach of the children, by imparting moral values. Here are a few easy steps to improve your skill-set in this area.
1. Narrate patriotic, religious or ethical stories. Question them about the lesson they have learned.
2. Be polite, respectful and considerate towards others.
3. Media exposure plays a major role in our life. While watching the news or even a movie discuss the different aspects and ask the child what he/she would have done in that situation? This will develop a sense of reasoning in children.
4. Listen respectfully to your child’s ideas and wherever required correct them. This will boost their self-confidence.
5. Spend quality time with children. The quality of time that you spend with your children has a close effect on what they grow up into.
6. Provide opportunities for your children to help others. This will instill in them generosity.
7. Involve your child in community service. It will generate an attitude of serving.
8. Tell your child about the people you admire and why. It will silently inculcate good qualities.
9. Comment on compassionate behavior. Let your child know that caring is an important moral value.
With the above mentioned values being inculcated, kids will be able to analyze any situation before reacting. Also remember that it is the responsibility of all young parents to look after their parents well and set an example for their kids. I read a short story a few days back in which a young couple was discussing about sending the parents to old age home and their child overheard the conversation and asked what they were discussing. The husband and wife looked at each other and told the child that his grandparents were being sent to a place where they would get people of their own age and would enjoy with them. The child innocently said that he would also find such a place and send them there when they grow old. This was a lesson to the young parents and thereafter they decided against sending the old couple to old age home and rather looked after them well and the same was emulated by their son.
We have been trying to sensitize our children in the school regarding the importance of elders and their contribution and sacrifice in providing all possible facilities to the youngsters. We celebrate “Sanskaar Divas” or “Grandparent’s Day” with zeal and enthusiasm at the school level. On this day the elderly guardians and grandparents of the kids are invited to the school and kids get a chance to perform in front of them and show love and respect. This makes one wonder that why kids can’t be given a chance and platform at home too, to interact for an hour or so with their parents and grandparents where all can sit together and discuss each other’s life and other important social issues on a daily basis.
In the end I would like to say that if we want our kids to use freedom in the correct manner, we should develop in them the ability to empathize, speculate and understand before taking any action. And for this we need to set examples which are worth emulating. Always remember these words of Lillian Gordy Carter, “Sure, I am for helping and taking care of the elderly. I am going to be old myself someday…” Kids will have to take care of the fact that the freedom that we enjoy today was a gift to us and we cannot take it for granted. We will have to give back all the love and care which is being showered on us today because Karma tells us, “What goes around, comes around.”