Everyone everywhere complains about disintegrating society, the erosion of culture, customs and religion and the gaps between youth and everyone else. However, as pertinent as one finds the aforementioned issues, there seem to be deeper problems one needs to look at. Most of us have witnessed people cutting queues, seen a ‘hit and run’, vehicles speeding and not following traffic signals, the list is endless. Heck, most of us have indulged in one or more of the same!
The fact of the matter is that today virtues are largely forgotten, even mocked by most. Here are a couple of fast disappearing mannerisms, soon to become characteristics of the days of yore that are rarely practiced, seldom valued but, largely (and incorrectly) projected by most in society :-
Being Polite: Rarely do people bother to thank servers, cleaners and housekeepers. Scantly does one see a lady get up and offer her seat in a crowded public transport vehicle to a frail old man. Hardly do you see a young man let an old lady go ahead of him in a bank queue because he’s in a hurry to get his cheque cleared and go clubbing to celebrate his payday. Politeness is hugely undervalued, rarely encouraged and the polite are seldom respected and given the same treatment. More often than not, most polite folk are taken advantage of, mocked for being gracious and often considered easy targets for bullying.
Kindness: A grossly under-rated virtue, kindness seems to be on it’s way to oblivion. Very few people are able to identify kindness, let alone appreciate or practice it. Most students think the ones who offer to carry something heavy for a professor must be doing it to butter them up. (The sad part is, most of them are.)
Gratitude: Few people are grateful (fewer can spell it right), more and more people are accustomed to privileges and think it is their right nay, their birthright, to have access to amenities like food (pizzas and such stuff), education (private colleges with dubious accreditation), transport (customized Hummers) and relaxation time (vacations to places which are ‘Facebook album’-worthy). However, a handful actually thank their parents, God, teachers or anyone with heart for giving them the opportunities they have. Perfunctory acts of gratitude such as the annual New Year card, Thank You note or hug are found aplenty but, real gratitude is hard to find today and, sadly is going the dodo-way. In fact, instead of feeling gratitude, most people feel obliged to help someone who has aided them in something at some point in life. Some don’t feel that either.
Humility: ‘If you have it, flaunt it’ seems to be the mantra today. One-upmanship rears it’s ugly head in even the simplest of things and keeping up with the Joneses is a matter of principle in most societies. Everyone is trying to make it obvious that s/he travels first class, dines at the best places with the creme-de-la-creme of society and has more visa stamps than s/he cares to count. Name dropping, brand-toting and showing-off are the current norms. Also, sometimes one wonders if people are trying to show themselves in better light or put each other down.
Knowledge: Perhaps the saddest case of all, knowledge or learning is an extremely undervalued virtue today. Schools train to achieve rather than learn, parents coax the bewildered student to get into a top institute as opposed to following her/his field of passion and peers deem a dedicated classmate as a nerd and bully her/him to no end. Most students score well but, application-wise they’re somewhere near zero. Rote learning rules the roost today. The majority of school and college goers have no idea what they’re studying, why they’re studying what they’re studying but, they’re all running to outdo the other.
Wisdom: Not many care about what the wise woman/man has to say but, show them a cunning woman/man and look at them run to get her/his counsel. Sadly, wisdom is considered as outdated as the IBM PC. Experience and learning leading to wisdom resulting in holistic development is fast being replaced with acquiring and manipulating leading to profit, corruption, cunning and exploitation for singular gain.
It is time to take a good look at the mirror and see where we, as a global society are headed and give virtues the emphasis they deserve in our lives. A strong society is made of more than high-flying corporate honchos. A virtuous woman/man is truly the only thing that has ever saved society in times of dire consequences.
A world with those who hold scant value for values will be of little value. It’s time for society to pull up it’s socks and look at leading holistic, meaningful and fulfilling lives as opposed to comfortable yet, empty existances.