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Monday, September 26, 2005

Do we want our children to stand up for their principles? ...

... Or just for their Principals?

Philosopher Bertrand Russell, standing up against Conscription; Boxer Mohammad Ali, accepting a jail-term (plus being stripped of his Heavyweight Champion title) rather than joining an unjust war in Vietnam; Nathan Krystall (see my last post: '& Another Inspiring Refusal') preferring arrest to serving the IDF - possibly inspiring other young Israelis, today, who are refusing to fight against Palestinians, while serving in the Israeli Army. Such principled stands make headlines and earn respect for the courage shown.

In less legal circumstances (but not with lesser risks, especially under authoritarian regimes), when heroes or popular figures return or refuse to accept National or International Awards, because of their differences with the policies of the awarding bodies, they make news, too, and are praised for their honesty. Even when clear 'risks' may not exist, such as in the instances highlighted in my earlier post ('Two Inspiring Refusals'), such acts are considered worthy of respect, because they serve - in no small way - to inspire the ability to stand up for one's views or, at the very least, help people understand the issues leading to such refusals.

I often wonder how teachers can inculcate this wonderful and noble quality among youth, given that many are strict disciplinarians, themselves, or have been forced into being so, because of a range of issues: from classroom management in overcrowded spaces, to the dastardly societal demands of instilling respect in the young for all authority, right or wrong.

Of course, this is not the responsibility of teachers, alone. In fact, the primary responsibility for ensuring that children develop a proper sense of values must rest with parents. But, in a society, where parental authority, too, is easily taken to be a licence for an almost dictatorial approach, the problem is even greater.

Is it possible that, while paying lip-service to such lofty ideals, we really do not want our children to imbibe them, lest they become misfits in an increasingly materialistic and hypocritical world? Even in this society's most repeated story, that of Karabala, the emphasis in its re-telling is subtly being changed over time. The stress is no longer upon the 'fighting for truth' that I recall hearing as a child. It is now more about the passion play and the wailing and the poetry-readings (which, more and more, celebrate the person - and his 'superior', almost supernatural, position - rather than what he is believed to have stood for).

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3 Comments:

Blogger the olive ream said...

Took a very strangled route (left at the traffic lights) to your blog. Very pleasant surprised. Astute observations and superb posts.

I shall return more frequently to peruse your wares.

Well done indeed.

27 September, 2005 11:47

 
Anonymous Ghazala said...

Some random maybe incoherent thoughts.

Indeed, it is for parents to instill values in their children despite the peer pressures of this extremely materialistic world and they can only do this by allowing enquiryby the child, not allow, but actively encourage it. For it is only when we ask questions do we look for answers and begin to think for ourselves. Obviously a child brought up in a strictly conventional and disciplinarian household will never be encouraged to do so because he/she may then start questioning parental mores and that is just not acceptable! a personal anecdote, or rather a couple of them- in school I used to fail a particular subject every term by 2 or 3 marks and my mother being srtricter than my father, I would always wait for the last day and then get him to sign my report in the car- each time he would say - it doesn't matter, you'll do better next time. Another related to my mother, though more conservative in her approach - when it came time for me to learn the Quran and Namaz -all she said was read the arabic yes, but read it and other religious texts as well in the language that you are comfortable with - and pray if and when you feel the need to and not because you have to.
Teachers today are different from teachers of yesteryear (sounds painfully like one generation talking to the next) - In final year at Med School a Professor of medicine after a ward round asked abgout a particular disease and the blood cell changes that take place in that vs another, I was the only one who differed , so he enquired about the textbook of medicine I was currently reading, corrected me saying I was wrong and went on his way. Next week same scenario after the ward round we were all gathered around him and he points to me and says nonchalantly loud enough for everyone to hear, you were right and I was wrong. That acknowledgement coming from a Professor publically was something I still truly value - keep an open mind.
It takes courage to stand up for your principles, but what scares us that in this country it does not mean serving a jail sentence or being stripped of your title, but being threatened with your life or worse with the lives of your children. "ik roz ka rona ho to ro lein sabr aawe,
har roz ke rone' ko kahan se' jigar aawey"

27 September, 2005 12:50

 
Blogger Hani said...

Hi there,

Regarding your note in Omer's blog, I agree with you. I don't think what Musharraf said was taken out of context cos as you said he didn't allow Mukhtaaraa├▒ Mai to travel out of Pak.

Also Shazia Khalid's case depicts Musharraf's biased attitude towards women. Since there was a military official involved the case was silenced and Shazia was sent to UK. The situation is sad. *sigh*

28 September, 2005 08:45

 

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