Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The young shall inherit the earth

The birth of a new year is a time of rejoicing, of drink and dance, of fireworks, of endless wishes, of resolutions and maybe the odd wistfulness of a year gone by. It is also a moment to reflect on the passage of time - of years whizzing by. I was prompted by this brilliant article in the FT  to muse on what sort of a world are we leaving for the young - for it is they who shall inherit the earth.

It is the fond wish of every parent to care and provide for his children. Yet collectively, humanity seems to be doing the opposite. How can it be that a powerful motive for the self, disappears when it comes to the whole ?

December was an awful month for the young. The shooting of school children in Newton, Connecticut and the rape and death of a young lady in Delhi would have shocked the most hardened of souls.  But those awful incidents have to stand by the side of equally awful things we do to the young

Many children under the age of 5 die. Its a shame on humankind that 19000 children under the age of five die every day, largely from preventable causes,  and my own country India, is the top contributor. I don't even want to guess the number of children we enslave, prostitute and kill. We are unable as a race to send 70 million children to school. We discriminate against the girl child in all sorts of ways and shoot the brave Malala, all because she wanted an education. In some countries, mainly the US, we have made the cost of college education so prohibitive that every student passing out starts life with a staggering amount of debt on her back.

All countries in the world are on a borrowing binge and leave the debt to be picked up by future generations. Every nation. including China, has a mountain of debt. We would individually cringe at leaving a debt for our child instead of a house, but as a collective nation, our sense of responsibility seems to have deadened.We all want fat pensions, but do not want to pay for it and are very happy to leave that liability unfunded for our children to bear. In many countries in the developed world, we offer no chance of employment for the young - we want to protect our jobs and make it impossible for anybody to fire us, but are happy to not even give an opportunity of a job to our children.

We debunk the theory of global warming because it does not suit us. We do not care much for the environment and are happy to leave the world a littered and polluted place. We do not even want to begin action on climate change. We exploit every fossil fuel that we can , knowing that very soon they would run out - that's a problem for our children to deal with. We deplete ground water in my country at such an alarming rate that very soon the next generation will fight wars over water. The less said about the number of trees we leave for our children, the better.

Our families are no longer the rock on which the young can grow on. Joint families have given way to nuclear families. Nuclear families are giving way to single parents. Many of us are far too busy running our lives. Our time, the most precious commodity for a child is, alas, is short supply. What has happened to the values, the most precious gift we can give our young. Not one of us, in my country, stops at a red light unless a policeman is watching - and sometimes not even then.  We teach the next generation by example, it is OK to do virtually anything as long as you don't get caught.

What has my generation come to. What do we do the many things we do, for ? Aren't we interested in how history will judge us by - aren't we afraid that we will be looked at with contempt by future generations.

Forgive us Lord for we know not what we do. And show us the way, for we are lost.

16 comments:

Vishal said...

Your post is perfect reflection of the indifferent mood on this new year. Just wonder how 'a little more' of 'sensibility, love and empathy' could change the whole outlook! 'A little more' is what it would need and I am sure it would come from somewhere. After all, the torch shall continue to lighten up humanity and planet.

With this very hope and inspiration, I wish you a very happy new year! :)

Exkalibur666 said...

Wish you a very happy new year Ramesh.. it is a pleasure a read ur blogs & the discussions that follow (as usual)..

I think we all need to collectively take a step back, slow down.. where are we all running.. the "how" should be become more important that the "what"...
Poverty and Corruption i think are at the root of most evils and the most venomous tentacle is that of extremism..

Another alarming trend is that absolutely no body reacts unless it affects them personally.If a sufficiently large majority changes this attitude in our country (india)..some changes might happen..

Some times wonder, what will it take to trigger a change. May be an even so big that the effects will be felt for a long long time..

Yet we all seem to live on in hope,,

Ramesh said...

@Vishal - Yes its been a slightly sombre new year alhough going by the hectic celebrations worldwide, you wouldn't think so. Best wishes to you too

@Excalibur - A very thoughtful comment. Yes, perhaps slowing down might be a good way. Of course hope is there - for without hope what is life.

Best wishes for the New year to you too.

Deepa said...

I thinks it's generations on generations that has brought us here and it's getting worse instead of better. This new year I did realize I wasn't as exuberant as before and I blamed it on 'first sign of aging'. But truly the year gone by did leave some difficult issues to be addressed by us before we find it impossible to face ourselves in the mirror!

Anyway... Let's hope for good times ahead, this new year!

gils said...

when u read the quote, veeday ulagam -> ulagamay veedu..it sounds so optimistic and adventurous. It breeds individualism. Athoda side effects thaan ithelaamnu thonuthu. "Thaan" "thannodathu" "i am my own world" apdingarathu palavithathula nalla vishaymnalaum familynu varapo it creates many block nenakren. Or probably on the brighter side, its an evolution of a new culture?? oru vela joint familyngarathu dinosaur mathiri oru speciesna individualsngarathu newly evolvinga irukala!! guilty until proven innocentngarathu was the norm before..athoda ulta ipo finding favour. Muzhusa nallathu muzhuasa kettathu ethuvum illa.. to quote verbatim the world is a grey place..and not one in black and white...itha sonna antha mahaanubaavar vera yaarumilla...neenga thaan thalai :))

Shachi said...

It's about bringing balance and harmony between the old and the new.
It's about bringing more compassion and "grace" in our outlooks.
It's about slowing down our pace of life, focusing on quality vs quantity.
It's about trying to always be on the giving end, vs the receiving.
It's about decluttering our minds and homes of excess tangible goods.
It's about putting focus on "play" while raising children, than ABC's and 123's when they are toddlers.

And I could go on....

Each one should do their part. I know I'm trying to do mine with my kids.

The Million Miler said...

Happy new year Ramesh. I was off the grid for a couple of weeks (no phone/net/paper/tv, travelling in the wilderness of the South Island)
Poignant post to kick off the new year. We look at kids of today and say they are a selfish 'me and only me' generation. But wonder where the role models for these kids come from. Are our kids not looking up to us as role models? Our pursuits of career, fame, happyness (as in the movie) leads us further and further away from our kids. When guilt strikes there is always an iPod or an Xbox to 'present' to our kids.
Wierd indeed!

sriram khe said...

Hey, here I am getting back to the cyberworld and the first thing I read is your depressing assessment .... Cheer us up, dude, and such a post doesn't work ;)

My first morning here and, as always, I turned the radio on to NPR and got my coffee and oatmeal going. All the talk about federal budget issues and employment and healthcare certainly makes me wonder if nothing changed at all during these four weeks off :(

Back in India, the daily reports in The Hindu were far from encouraging about that country. While thus far gang-rape was more of a metaphor for how the country was being screwed, the literal one and the death later of the victim was an atrocious low.

We can only hope that humans the world over will be at least like what is said about American politics--will finally do the right things after exhausting all the other possibilities.

Oh, btw, new year greetings, everybody!

Ramesh said...

@Deepa - Yes, that's true. This didn't happen over a day, but it has been a long slide downward. By the way, you and ageing cannot be mentioned in the same sentence, young lady :)

@Gils - As always, an incisive thoughtful comment, couched in Tamilish !!! Completely agree; especially when you quote me back to me :):)

@Shachi - Beautifully said. And you are doing more than just a small bit. Bravo

@Kiwi - Happy new year too, you lucky bum - gallivanting in Suth Island in the peak of summer. Yeah, we have some sould searching to do. My question is that when as an individual we can do so much for the young, why are we unable to do it collectively.

Asha said...

Many a times i think on the same lines as this post.

In the last 2 decades the world has changed a lot. Today's kids have no proper play ground to play but they are surrounded by hifi play gadgets, no nutritious food but lots of junk, many fizzy drinks but no sparkling water through taps. They have the comfort of ac's but no clean air, no emotional support to share their woes in the form of extended family.Degrading moral values but education in high end schools.

They have everything yet nothing.

All thanks to our generation. in the name of development, science and technology,IT revolution we might not bequeath the world we inherited.

But still, as an optimist, we can only HOPE for a better world.

Ramesh said...

@Sriram - Yeah - not much has changed in the world in the four weeks you were away !! You sure about the American politicians bit ????

@Asha - HOPE exactly, in capital letters.

Ravi Rajagopalan said...

Ramesh: There is much to be depressed about, and much to cheer. This is the human condition and nothing has changed.

The one thing I will agree with you on whole-heartedly, is the way we mis-price the two billion years worth of hydrocarbon reserves, which are being burnt away as we speak at an unprecedented rate. This is a tragedy and is entirely due to politics and lifestyles that we have all become used to.

The second - the waste of water. I try to tell my six year old of how bad it is to waste water. But unless someone has stood in front of a hand-pump coaxing some brackish water out of the spout (as I did in New Avadi Road in 1986) no one will understand. In Goa, I tried telling some of the kids of batchmates, that one liter of milk produced in Gujarat takes 1250 litres of precious ground-water. I wish I could describe the glazed looks on their faces.

I do not have any panaceas to offer.


Ramesh said...

@Ravi - True , there is the negative and the positive and that's simply being human. However, in this issue, I believe we have become immune to the negative and are in a trance like state which should be jolted.

No panaceas from you ???? No , you can't get away with that :)

Reflections said...

Very very thought-provoking post....I still remember another post you had written on similar lines....seriously where is this all leading to???
I dont knw abt the rest of the world but if India's population can be controlled, 30% of her problems are already solved. Also every parent needs to take their responsibility seriously....instill in their child the right values. It's a start atleast.

Ramesh said...

@Reflections - Amen - if every parent instilled in their child, the right values, the world will be an infinitely better place. For that, we need a million more Ns.

Reflections said...

What a lovely thing to say...thank you:-)).

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