Telugu-speaking people often use the words ‘Amma’ (which means Mother) and ‘Nanna’ (which means father) in daily conversations, even when parents are not involved (Like you may say to your friend, “What happened to you, amma?”). In Hindi, we often use the word ‘yaar’ in daily conversations. I’m wondering if the way we use these words describe the kind of culture we live in.
We are taught so many things at school but I wish we are taught the ways to handle vulnerability. Human beings, especially men, don’t want to be vulnerable because
a. It is seen as weakness
b. We are not equipped with skills to handle vulnerable situations.
So what happens when a Guru you revere turns out to be a rapist? Your entire world falls apart. Since you are not encouraged to cry, you resort to violence. There is also a blow to your ego: Since you followed someone who is actually a rapist, your choice is all wrong! This injury of ego and soul makes you extremely vulnerable
We can learn a lot about a society by observing the way it treats children (after all, these children will be the future). A society which treats children as inferior beings who must obey adults and have to be “taught stuff” might have a lot of abusive families and corruption. A society that sees children as “investments” might have a lot of stress due to expectations from children. A society that doesn’t care about children’s books and films might become less imaginative and less empathetic. A society which treats children as equals, might see a lot more gender equality, peace and happiness. Parents who believe that they have a lot to learn from their children, parents who respect their children’s opinions/intuition might live a more meaningful life. Ultimately, it all comes down to how you treat someone who is less powerful than you.
There was a time when I used to force myself to keep the artist and the art separate. My heart always felt that it was wrong but somehow, I used rationality to convince myself to listen and watch artists who have been accused of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc. But now when I listen to the English retro station and hear Michael Jackson, I immediately close the tab or my ears. Whenever I hear praises about Johnny Depp (Who was my favorite actor at one point of time) or Woody Allen, I cringe. It’s true that the art is always greater than the artist but it is kind of impossible to separate the two. Art is not rational and human beings are emotional beings.
You might ask, “where is the proof? How do you know that the accusations are not false?”. My answer is that it’s okay if I miss out on one of the greatest pieces of art because of the accusations. Humanity is more important than art. A piece of art that has been created by a man/woman who has done some inhumane things is anyway not worth my time.
“Worshiping your parents” is dangerous because it discourages us from questioning our parents (which is REALLY important). It is dangerous because the kids grow up and expect their kids to worship them. It is dangerous because it enables many parents to abuse their children. It is dangerous because many parents manipulate and emotionally blackmail their children. It is dangerous because many parents bully their children. It is dangerous because it turns parents into narcissists. Our parents are not Gods. They are human beings with flaws and limitations. Respect and love your parents but don’t be fanatical about them!
I often hear people using the word ‘uneducated’ as an insult during debates. First of all, not everyone can afford to get quality education, so it’s not someone’s fault if he/she is not educated. Secondly, education cannot really stop anybody from becoming an asshole (Many highly educated men have been accused of rape). Sure, it can impart the right values but I’m skeptical about our education system doing this job. Our education system is mainly designed around obedience, conformity and jobs, so teaching the important things definitely take a back seat. And even if the education system is doing a fabulous job, using the word ‘uneducated’ as an insult is like mocking someone for not knowing English.
Society is afraid of solitude. A solitary individual might find truth, beauty and happiness and he/she might come to a conclusion that most of the things/activities in the society are not necessary. He/She might start questions like “what is the meaning of life” or “why am I here?”. Society is made up of people who have second-hand answers to these questions and it is afraid of being challenged by individuals who are not satisfied with these answers. So society designs a strategy: it shames loners and thinkers. It fills up people’s time with endless activities so that they have no time to think.
Until the last few months, I believed in changing myself instead of trying to change others. It is a nice philosophy but I now realize that it has a lot of limitations. This philosophy makes you responsible but you end up blaming yourself for something you are not responsible for. I now realize that the problem is much more complex and that the philosophy is pretty dangerous. If you were raped or sexually abused, you will end up blaming your clothing or your behavior! If you face sexism at your workplace, you will end up doubting your talent.This attitude will also affect your mental health. Hence, it is important to question others’ behavior when it is necessary. There’s nothing wrong in expecting others to change (at least when it comes to social issues). As long as this expectation doesn’t harm us (and as long as the expectation is not unfair), we should push for change.