Growing Intolerance In Societies – Who Is Accountable?

Intolerance

I have always been deeply disturbed by intolerance and wanted to write about it but I have always turned my face the other way, trying to avoid it, knowing well how deep-rooted this sentiment is and how less I know about it.

I have tried to understand it in my own limited arena, how it develops and gets aggravated within the families before it spills out onto the streets.

Quite early in life, I had my first encounter with this emotion albeit I had no idea that people call it intolerance and it is so widespread! With the passage of time I learnt that intolerance is the refusal to accept, appreciate and respect the views, beliefs or behavior of a person or a social group.

I also learnt that we are not born with intolerance. Children are too innocent to understand the depth of this term, which is defined for them by their parents, environment and the society in which they are raised.

So it is a learned behavior. It is most often trigged by fear or insecurity that people face in their immediate environment.

It is a universal phenomenon…in some societies it is camouflaged under empathy and help that leaders try to offer, only to exploit it for their own benefits, which could be political, religious or related to caste and color.

Mahatma Gandhi felt, “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”

We inflict this violence on each other, without caring for the emotional hurts it causes especially on young adolescents who have to deal with it in educational institutions and neighborhood.

Role of families: As a child, whenever I visited my grandmother’s home, I saw a weird form of intolerance towards the working class, who could not mingle with the landlord families, had to sit on the floor and eat in their own plates, which had to be kept separate. Feudal masters looked down upon them just because they were poor and worked in their fields.

It is quite obvious that the children of such houses would grow up with the feeling that this kind of behavior was right and that is how it got embedded in social set up. It could never be rooted out despite the best of opportunities and laws. It still exists in a veiled form because certain people refuse to accept the underprivileged and the downtrodden as their equal. They share their beliefs and opinions with their children in their own narrow-minded way and the vicious circle continues.

Intolerance

Role of groups: There are fanatics who want to underline the importance of their own caste, region, race or religion. They create such groups to highlight the superiority of their race or religion. They keep raking the age-old traditions to prove that their ancestors had rightly created the class divide. Their constant endeavor is to sow the seeds of narrow-mindedness in the impressionable minds.

The atrocities of the past, the brutalities, which were inflicted by a certain group of people, are never buried. They are kept alive by talking about them so that the posterity remembers the prejudices, so that the youth can be instigated in the name of never ending vengeance.

Education, awareness and globalization has done little in eradicating intolerance, which is much more deep-rooted than we think. It is associated with the biased views of a parent, a teacher or a leader whose influence on growing children cannot be prevented.

Role of educational institutions: Children who study in minority schools and convents are conditioned to follow a set of rules, which contribute immensely to their development. They may not be told that others are lesser than them but the way their own beliefs, principles and philosophies are drilled, do create a subtle feeling of superiority for their own group.

Some of those who are confused try to rationalize those beliefs and principles but many more are easily carried away by the radical groups and that is how fringe elements get an impetus to keep themselves active and alive to exploit the sensitive matters.

5655694025_dogs_and_diversity_xlarge
Image courtesy: http://www.sodahead.com

Intolerance is also self-perpetuated and controlling this emotion is possible:

  • Think rationally
  • Learn to control anger and jealousy
  • Be sensitive to the hurts of others
  • Nurture kindness and compassion
  • Respect the opinion of others
  • Don’t feed doubt, vengeance and outrage

Intolerance is another form of discrimination. To my mind, they are synonyms.

Intolerance begins from homes, not hearts.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

 

How Culture Molds Our Personality

cultural conditioning of personality

We may be born with a personality but it is molded by the environment and the social structures we dwell in. It is refined in the cauldron of cultural and social heritage, which affects each and every aspect of our life.

Cultural norms dictate our upbringing as we pick up the beliefs, values, attitudes and prejudices unconsciously from our families, friends, ethnic groups and society.

Early childhood experiences leave a profound impact on our personalities. Closed and conservative societies send a mute message to the child not to explore anything independently, thereby curbing the free spirit, which a child is born with.

Cultural conditioning starts the moment a child is born, the way he is christened, fed, educated and raised.

When the diktats of culture expect a child to follow certain set rules of a society, which fail to distinguish between the aptitudes and aspirations of an individual, which expects all the persons to stay within those boundaries – such families often raise introverts, serious and quiet individuals who are conditioned to be cautious at each step.

They grow up to be huge supporters of tradition and culture that they have imbibed. The chain of thoughts and ideas continue to be passed on to the next generation and that’s how certain redundant traditions continue to thrive.

When we grow up in a free and unrestricted surroundings, where there are no rules for wearing a particular dress or studying a compulsory subject, where swimming lessons are a norm for every child, we develop into original thinkers, independent, analytical, adventurous and determined.

Such persons become natural leaders, with the urge to accomplish all that they can conceive. They have a mind of their own and can never be misled by anti-social elements.

A competitive culture raises extremely ambitious children because the prodding to do better than the challenger in his peer group infuses a spirit of pursuing success aggressively. The enthusiasm to excel gets embedded in their personality.

They become highly successful, practical and conscientious workers. They can inspire many more to be like them.

A creative culture encourages children to develop their own exciting ideas and beliefs. When children are given the liberty to explore their own fun oriented activities, when their minds are not loaded with pre-conceived tasks, discovering and learning becomes a part of their personalities.

Such children grow up to be innovative artists who can be creative as well as idealistic. They are very adaptive, kindhearted and sensitive.Personality

Hardworking culture brings the best out of children and train them at a very early stage to understand the dignity and value of work. Those who grow up with this culture around them tend to respect all kinds of work, are very helpful and cooperative, responsible and reliable.

However they miss on the leisurely aspects of life, as they are always eager to accomplish their goals. Since they are trained by difficult and harsh surroundings, they are highly resilient and flexible. Perseverance and loyalty are the hallmarks of such a personality.

Religious culture gives a distinctive shape to the personality, which has definite leanings towards duty and devotion. Children who are exposed to scriptures and places of worship at a tender age tend to become believers, some of them follow religious decrees blindly and lose their logical and analytical bent of mind. They may be submissive but stand firm with their beliefs, they may be abstemious and compassionate but are very sensitive towards their principles.

Such individuals develop a positive outlook, cultivate self-discipline and are laid back. They drift into their flock and can be easily misled into fanaticism. They can become fiercely active if they are exhorted in the name of religion.

Music culture in the homes produces extremely perceptive and patient individuals. They are driven by emotions; their passion for melody and harmony makes them highly creative. Mundane life doesn’t interest them, as they like to soar with their imagination. They are individualistic and like to follow their intuition.

What kind of personality do you have? Have you been influenced by any such culture? I would love to hear your views.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

 

Why I Married At 23…Sometimes We Do Make Wrong Decisions!

Early marriage

Our decisions cling to us, we have to live with some of them all our life. We might live in the shadow of regret because we didn’t have the maturity to ponder. We didn’t have the guts to speak up, to express our resentment, to rise against what appeared to be a wrong decision.

What if a parent or sibling makes those life-changing decisions?

What if they were made under societal pressures or moral bindings?

What if they are seen to be quite right by everybody around us?

All these questions didn’t crop up when I married at 23 (actually 22+) and it happened to be a happy marriage.

Thankfully, I have lived by that decision without any regrets.

I am not alone!

I know many girls marry at this age, out of choice. But the million-dollar question is: Are they enlightened enough to gather the import of such a decision?

When there is an unwritten decree that you have to marry when you are asked to just because it is convenient for the people around you, when the society values your muteness at such decisions, when you are expected to concur with what your near and dear ones decide for you, when you don’t want to displease them…do you have any choice?

In many cases that decision may turn you into a puppet, a slave, a housemaid, a sex symbol, a money-churning machine – who cares? You are seen as respectfully, happily married woman!

Now many such questions stare at me and I realize how simple, how immature and young I was at that time.

I couldn’t even understand that I was abdicating my dream, my aspiration.

I was told that I could still pursue it. I just chose to forget it but that is another story!

I was told that everybody must settle down. I could hardly fathom the depth of those words.

Did I have a choice? I was not expected to question or even see the man I was supposed to marry though I did raise some queries and insisted on meeting him at least once.

It is another matter that I met a kind and understanding man.

All those who are married off like this are not that lucky.

Those were probably primitive times…we didn’t have any Google to ask all those questions. We just had a radio and a gramophone, which sang away to glory and who was interested in the news that women had been granted equal status, that they too could claim their rights!?

Nothing has changed in this technology driven, digital world.

The unwritten diktats of the society follow young, naïve girls to their grave.

Marrying young

Younger brides can be easily molded, that is the belief. They can’t wield much power and will-power, this weakness can be easily exploited.

I didn’t have the power or the authority; they too face the same scenario.

The patriarchal societies are driven by the same age-old traditions of marrying a young girl, demanding (or expecting) dowry and considering the wife as a personal property.

My own niece met with the same fate and I couldn’t do anything! Isn’t it strange? But she chose to divorce!

She could only do so when the choice lay in her own hands and I appreciate her bold step.

I am not shifting any blame.

I could have also made a wrong decision. Many people do so.

I am only trying to understand how much has our society evolved. How much freedom have we attained and who have actually got that freedom?

At the same time, I am awe struck at the wrong decisions made in the western world, where dating at teenage endows them with too much of freedom.

They have all the choices!

We all make wrong decisions but when we make them ourselves, we move on, thinking it was a bad dream, a little mistake, and an aberration.

How long will the societal oppressions keep demanding the sacrifices of young, innocent girls? How long would their ambitions be thwarted by the biased demands of their culture and dogmas?

Thank you for reading this. I am sure you have some thoughts to share. Please do so.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Thank you for your support. Please add your valuable comments, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

Image adapted from: http://kenmclane.org