Vanishing Values

first_imgA young college student aspiring to study abroad enrolled to volunteer for an NGO in the hope that it will look good on her resume`. After her first day at the NGO, she returned home with a sense of gratitude, that she was privileged to get a decent education, and the least she could do was to help others less privileged. This change in her thought and attitude resulted in her continuing to volunteer for three years continuously. It was no longer about an ‘extra curricular’ activity on her resume`but wanting to bring a positive change in her students’ lives. The rapport with her students built over the period, sensitized her to the challenges faced by them. This in turn made her feel more grateful for her circumstances, which led to her not taking anything for granted in her life. This young lady has demonstrated her values through her actions. Selflessness, Gratitude, Generosity, Discipline, Integrity, Perseverance, Commitment, Honesty, Accountability to mention a few.All of us have a sense of right and wrong, albeit it differs in each of us. Values are a set of beliefs specific to individuals which guide them in their day to day interactions with people. These are very often instilled in childhood and also unconsciously adopted by children through the environment they live in. Values tend to become ingrained in individuals as it is something they have grown up with since the beginning of their social awareness. The culture in which they are brought up also influences their values. So we see that there are multiple influences on the value system of an individual. The strength of each influence varies, depending on the depth and intensity of relationships shared with the ‘influencers’ as well as the quality of time spent with them.We hear of different kinds of values like family values, professional values, moral values, spiritual values and so on. I think the individual values are more important as they would in turn influence all other values. It is manifested in the way we behave with others and the kind of decisions we take. So no matter what you say, your behavior becomes a direct measure of your value system. This is reflected in every aspect of our life- family, professional, spiritual and so on. A child brought up in a strong value system will continue to abide by them even when he or she is away from the direct influence of the family. Hence, parenting plays a major role in instilling the right values in children.The measure of a ‘civilized’ nation is not dependent on just the literacy level or GDP, but what kind of a value system its citizens possess. We read about all kinds of crimes being committed and this prompts one to wonder the reason behind such acts. The antecedents of such behaviours are as important as the consequences to them. Most often, we focus only on the consequences instead of on the root of the problem. As parents, as citizens we need to look into the why, so that it can be ‘nipped in the bud’ and not allowed to grow.Spending quality time with our children, listening to them with an open mind, understanding their priorities, meeting their friends to understand their influences and more importantly, giving them space to just ‘let them be’ could help build trust. Each parent would like to hand down the same values that they were brought up with, as they treat them as a legacy. But we also need to be aware that if a child questions why something should be done, we should be patient enough to explain and not just insist with a ‘because I told you so’! This can happen only when we begin to see the child not just as an extension of our self, but as a separate individual with an identity of its own. It is something to appreciate and celebrate that the child has a curiosity to know ‘Why’? And giving the right answer to the ‘why’ will make the child believe in you and trust you. The next time you say something,  your child  would probability listen more readily.In my school, we had ‘Value Education’ or Moral values’ period once a week where short stories were narrated to demonstrate the importance of values. Jataka Tales, Panchatantra tales, Akbar-Birbal stories, Aesop’s Fables, Siṃhāsana Dvātriṃśikā (popularly known as Simhasan Battisi) apart from mythological stories from the epics Ramayana and Mahabhararta and even Hans Andersen’s tales were narrated. Nowadays story telling is confined to electronic gadgets and the human touch is lost somewhere. Moreover with the freely available information, more often the wrong kind is accessed which has an adverse impact on impressionable young minds. As they grow older and their interaction with the society increases at multiple levels, the core values come into play. Smoking, consuming alcohol and drugs, indulging in irresponsible social behaviors have become more rampant.Today, the onus of instilling values is put on educational institutions….not just in school, but also in higher education.Today’s youth will be expected to be responsible citizens of tomorrow with a duty towards their country. Unless the youth are instilled with right values, they would not be of any use to their country.last_img