Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.
C. S. Lewis
Nothing is fortuitous, at least not in my life. Everything that happens, happens for a reason. Last week I stumbled up an article in a magazine. It was a review of Arun Shourie’s latest book: Two Saints: Speculations Around and About Ramakrishna Paramahamsa & Ramana Maharshi. The book is a quest on what made such souls saints and the author concludes that: The real miracle in their case was their goodness, their compassion, the complete consistency of their teachings and their life.
This post is not meant to be a treatise on Godmen or religion. Far from that. The reason I believe I was guided to these words was because for the past days I have been deeply disturbed by much of what is happening around us, be it intolerance, violence against women, the worst being the terrible ordeal of two young girls abused and humiliated by a dozen of young boys who filmed the horror and posted it on Facebook, the reaction of the elected representative whose absurd panacea for all ills that befall women is for women to stay indoors. There are many more instances of such behaviour. What they all reflect is that there is something terribly wrong in our society and that it is time to face things head on and take the measures required at every level.
It is evident that no child is born a criminal. It is the ‘education’ he gets from the the time he is born to the time he makes his choices that make the difference. This ‘education’ is as much in the home as it is in school and other institutions and modes of learning.
C.S. Lewis’s quote: Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil, may seem harsh but is true. Education without values can indeed do more harm than good. The child will learn what he sees, what he is taught and what he is told. A child who sees women being ill-treated in his home is likely to do the same to just give one example.
The question we need to ask is what is it that we do not ‘teach’ our children. And that is where Shourie’s conclusion on what made people like Ramakrishna Parmahamsa great gives the answer: goodness and compassion. Are we teaching these to the children of today is the questions that looms large.
I belong to a generation where moral values was a subject in school; a generation where mothers and grandmothers told children stories from mythology or personal experiences; where books were the main source of entertainment and where imagination was your favourite getaway. And in each book lay a lesson to be learnt and imbibed. A dream to be followed, a role model albeit for a short time till you stumbled upon the next one.
This is again not an apologia for yore years. But in the wake of what is happening around us it is time to assess what is wrong and fill the gaps. Saints like the ones mentioned above are nowhere to be seen. Religion itself has become commercial and I often wonder why all the Godmen who have such a huge following and 24 hours TV channels do not address these issues. Why dont they get outraged when a child is raped and talk about it in their sermons. I wonder why moral science was removed from school curriculum. Who decided that!
It looks like we have become a society that suffers from the ostrich syndrome.
On the other hand the gap has been filled by technology and easy access to information. There is a lot of good out there but also a lot of information that is dangerous. The child is assaulted by images and information he cannot process, that he is not ready for and the tragedy is that there is no one to guide the child, to hold her/his hand and steer her/him away from the pitfalls. The child grows alone and makes decisions that are often age inappropriate.
Why was sex education removed from school curricula again. Is this not the right space to learn about age appropriate behaviour on the one side and how to to protect oneself by learning to cream NO! Within the homes, patriarchy reigns and with it the misplaced code of honour that places the burden of HONOUR on the tender shoulder of the girl child. Ad then there is SHAME that imposed te code of silence should any aberration happen.
What a toxic cocktail to have to grow up in alone.
Again the question arises: who will bell the cat. And the answer has to be is: us! Each one of us! By setting examples to emulate. By standing for what is right. By not keeping silent.
Our children deserve better than what we are giving them. They deserve to be taught values so that they can make the right choices as adults