Society never stays the same; change is inevitable. What happens then? Making irrelevant or insignificant the prevailing values of society, a social change creates new values. It is noteworthy that our society too has changed to welcome new cultural values. Noble ideas like ‘Honesty is the best policy’; ‘Never tell a lie’, ‘Devotion to duty’ or ‘Do good and leave’ seem to have become meritless now. We may talk and hear of values such as selflessness, justice, sympathy, patriotism, good manners, work is worship; but most of the time, these lofty ideals are seldom followed. On the other hand, anyone who practices them gains little appreciation. And even suffers from many more hardships—not because of his/her noble way of life but because the good principles land him/her in trouble at the hands of those who disagree with those good ideals .
Is not it selfish and callousness if one person prioritizes his/her comfort at the cost of others? For example, we see (around shops and parks) heaps of trash, fruit skins and food on the ground and in drains; people smoke in vehicles, in the markets, in public places and in offices. And we see traffic jams are forced by parking vehicles on roads. No care and concern for the discomfort it gives to others. Almost a way of life has become this ' my comfort first ' mentality.
A painful sight is the use of aggression, not reason. I recently saw a young boy of teen age throwing stones at a dog. I stopped him and told him that the stones are hurting the dog and it is wrong to harm it. Ignoring me, the boy cursed the dog and went on chasing it with stones. Similarly I saw a gentle looking man arguing with a driver over fare charges and slapping the driver for arguing. In fact, the driver's version was not wrong; the other passengers did say that the driver was not seeking wrong fare.
Now, why did the young boy (in the dog’s case) ignore my advice? Children sometimes see adults cursing and stoning dogs and they at times imitate the same. Yes, our children do learn about cleanliness, morals like compassion, sympathy, not harming others and respecting their elders. But applying these values on ground level requires that adults lead from the front to display them in their conduct. Unfortunately, our children are exposed to audio-visual violence, un- supervised life at home, and no resistance to wrong behavior in society. An example, if an electricity transformer becomes non-functional, you can hear our elders cursing and abusing the employees. And sometimes beating them. That behavior may inspire the young to follow suit. Violence displayed in movies impacts the behavior of the youth more than the goode things shown there. The youth also learns movie slang, hairstyle and bullying form them. As a result, they find interest and enjoyment in imitating this behavior. Moreover, an aggressive and violent behavior by the youth is also seen in schools where even teachers sometimes show and promote this behavior.
This is a serious state of affairs. And let’s not forget that this violence is only a part of a more serious social disease affecting us. The society of today is riddled with conflicts, unresolved tensions and violence. There is worship of violence, false heroes and false values all around. It is now hard to tell sheep from goats. There are thugs in a gentleman’s dress. There are people who speak soft but hit hard. So it hardly surprises if our youth find themselves in chaos and confusion. Our youth need role models. But they only find wolves in lamb’s clothing. But we should not condemn youth. Instead, we should understand them and see the causes of their bad behavior. That way will breed sympathy, tolerance and understanding. This can well be done by parents of a child. Right from birth, parents need to treat their child as an individual with full respect and recognition to its emotional and intellectual development and independence. Parents lay the foundation for a good character of the child. If they fail, the other institutions find it very difficult to deal with the child. Elders can set the examples of decency in language and behaviour.
After home, school influences a child very much and shapes its personality. At school, a teacher is the most important factor. His words and deeds teach children what is noble and what is wrong. So teachers need to be much disciplined in their language, behavior and dealings with a child. A teacher must know that life and textbooks are different. Vague knowledge cannot enable a child to live normal life. Children need to be taught how to live and face challenges of life. Children will become what we make them today.
(Author is a Teacher by profession and RK Columnist. He can be reached on: Sheikhshabir518@gmail.com