Till when will we keep accepting all that the people who lived before us, laid out for us? Take a peek within.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti
“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.”
― Jim Morrison
“The reflection of the current social paradigm tells us we are largely determined by conditioning and conditions.”
― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
What follows comes from an Indian child.
It’s very important to think about someone’s conditioning before judging their actions or their intent for an action. While I start to take my baby steps into a world unknown, that’s bound by no rules, I would love to sit with people and understand their upbringing. It needs to be an enchanting exercise in which I try and relate to them and connect a lot of dots about myself. And while I even start to think of starting on my path, I wonder what it must have been like to be our parents.
We, in India, have a tendency to refer to a lot of our patronage. “My father was an army officer”, “My Mother bravely carried her pregnancy” – are just some examples we use every day. But how many times have we really tried to go all out and find out the type of bond they shared with their parents and relatives while they were growing up?
Parents are complex beings, especially the ones who raised us in our time. I am 32 years old and you’re good at Math; run your additions and subtractions and calculate the time period I’m talking about. Our grandparents were emerging from and fighting a lot of poverty handed to them by the British Raj and the most valuable of things and lessons they have come from relationships. Our parents looked at our grandparents and saw people who had buried themselves for the well-being of their children. The first part of the conditioning of our parents thus stated, “Learn to sacrifice yourself for the betterment of your little ones. That way you keep your parents and yourself happy and live with the feeling of altruism”. The actual word is Responsibility.
During their time i.e. right after the British Raj ended, culture of a limited family was unheard of, for a father required as many hands as possible to raise crops, cut them and sell them. Educating the children always took a back seat and welfare of their surroundings and environment often fell on deaf ears. Family had to come first for there always were more mouths to feed than the total income in the household. Nothing, no amount of money was ever enough. So, parents always sacrificed themselves, a lot, morally and physically, only to make ends meet.
Although with time, some of the grandparents while fighting poverty and their middle class fate, started to understand the importance that education will eventually play in their children’s lives. And thus came the turn for our parents to get educated, another responsibility for them to excel and shine for our grandparents whom they could see, were vaporizing their blood, day and night, to pay the fees for that very education, hoping that one day their investment will bear fruits of progress and wealth for their children, our parents.
I pity that time even though I’m its product. Not only were our parents the first ones to have had a look at society the way it is shaped now, but probably played a good part in developing the system too; a system of altruism, doing things for others selflessly and yet, show it off to the society. A society that has, since time immemorial, forgotten the very humans that decided to live for it. And to maintain their worth, our parents did all that could muster to live up to the hype created around them by that very society. They did it for us; their children. They never gave a thought to themselves, their life, their pain, their systematic desecration of hope and all creativity. Think of all that art lost and forgotten inside their souls.
In a very cruel way and rather ironically, the more our grandparents live, the longer our parents are stuck in this endless spiral of selflessness that caters to everyone but them. This leaves them dividing time between 2 ends they can never have permanently; their parents and their children. Grandparents who have only a few years to go and children who will one day leave to find their paths of lives. Neither of them is permanent. Our parents were thus never exposed to being artistic except for the ones who actually earn by practicing art. They never did things for themselves. Is the pleasure of living for your children so great, that people are prepared to sacrifice their lives for them? What about the years that will follow? Why do we never ask: have I lived my life to the fullest? Will I always be guided by the path and morals that someone else laid out for me?
I find it divine to be able to live with our parents and see them go through their years and learn from them. But I also often ask myself, why must I chose to live a life that’s derived from the experiences that were derived from the perspective of a different time, different place, and different people. People in our time no longer suffer from lack of opportunities that the earlier generations did. We see things that are brighter, clearer, and full of proven knowledge. We do things faster than they were ever done, our dimensions are different. We don’t suffer from the gloom that the previous had to face. Then why follow their footsteps.
I’ve decided to create my own reality. I have the requisite knowledge and am gaining more as I speak. I don’t want to show off. I want to do things only for myself. And yet my morals don’t place me opposite to altruism. I want to do better for the world but that betterment has to start from within, by phasing out the knowledge and the flimsy cover of security this so called society provides. I want to go out and live my life the way I want to. My path and morals only guide me to the betterment of myself and henceforth, the people around me, people that I care to carry with me. I don’t wish to look far. I want to enjoy the present. I accept all that is right for me and I’m grateful for it.
I refuse to be conditioned again.