Wrong applause… Wrong definition…

There was a meme going around on social media, that millennials are offended today with the slightest of things. Compare that to teenagers and young adults of the era before who faced grave challenges and yet lived through it. It eludes to a wrong parenting approach – that of raising pampered kids and entitled teenagers. Where basic things like even showing up to school on time and participating in events (not winning) is applauded and the children are raised with a heightened (yet shallow) ego’s with no real challenges.

The point is… rewarding, applauding, praising – of anything that is not worthy enough, leads to issues. In fact things which are considered as worthy of an award are a barometer of that societies achievement level.

For example, in western or developed countries, when one ensures they throw garbage in the dust bins or follows rules while driving / walking or obey laws without bribing… no one applauds. It is expected as a norm. In fact non-compliance is considered a crime and shamed upon. Contrast that with India – where if one is going by the rule book of basic community hygiene and safety, they are considered a different breed and saintly.

Is the applause of doing the basics, the right way to bring up the standards… or is shaming the non-compliance the right way? I believe in the latter and here is why…

Anything that is put on a higher pedestal and rewarded is considered as exceptional… as not normal… as special… Not done by everyone…

And for something that needs to be basic, it has to be adopted at mass level… as normal… not as special… not as heroic… and that is the inherent dichotomy in the award concept and the definition of a normal…

Why I am writing this today; because my wife has been travelling to India for work every month for 2 weeks… and we were joking with each other as to how I was earning a lot of brownie points from other people’s wives and she getting the envious looks – how I was the trophy husband of sorts now – something similar to my first attempt at managing kids alone… And we were commenting similarly last week about another man who was fond of cooking and was giving his wife a rest day over the weekend by cooking lunch / dinner… we men were being glorified for sharing responsibilities!

And its not just about men… there are days when we are discussing finances and we talk about how women who are making decent contributions financially to the household are doing a great job and how fantastic it is for that home’s economy because of that…

Breaking pigeon holed stereotyping and fixated role expectations is important and required… but I am not sure if applause and glorification is the right route… The right route is to simply speak of it as being normal…

My wife is a strong believer in equality… and she is right when she says that kids accept things as normal what they see as part of their day to day lives in their homes from a young age… her friend had seen both her parents work right from when she was born… so for her friend, it was not abnormal or heroic at all when men do the dishes or put kids to bed… or when women pay off the home loan or get the new car… and even vice-versa… it’s all normal…

If we, me and my wife praise each other… or the community we are in, applauds us for doing things that are not the stereotyped responsibilities, our kids will not believe them to be normal… and that is not really the message that we want the new generation to have, do we? We want them to believe it is normal…

So stop the praise… stop the applause… stop the glorification… let them consider it as normal…

Whilst it is true and out of the ordinary in one’s parlance… but it will not help the next generation that is looking and learning… nor even the current generation… for the ones who are not doing it today won’t feel the shame of not doing it, and are used to finding recognition and self worth in something else…

Another thing I really feel strongly about is the definition of what sharing of responsibilities means… someone should do the cooking, than other should do the dishes… putting kids to bed by one, than other has to be checking on school schedules and homework… or take days/weeks in turns to do it… contributing equally to finances… taking equal stress of managing chores at home… What is it?

In my view… there is no definition… its freaking ridiculous to define a single universal answer for it… for the truth is that in reality every individual is different – with their own strengths and aspirations… and so them coming together to manage a home needs to be a subjective; a between them affair, of how they want to do it…

If a monkey and an elephant come together… the combined strength of what they could achieve is far greater if the monkey climbs trees and the elephant moves rocks… the same rules do not apply if its a team of a hippo and a tiger…

What should a family achieve and pursue… how should they want to achieve it… should be left to the family to decide… based on their interpersonal aspirations and abilities… in the name of equality, one thing that is happening is that we are advertising heavily that the norm for new age men and women is – everything should be equal… equal responsibilities for everything irrespective of anything… that’s the yardstick of being liberal and forward thinking…

What actually should be propogated is that when people come together, they should share their aspirations and figure out how they together can complete each other… manage the responsibilities… adjust to things… I loved English Vinglish (hindi movie) for many reasons… one of them was the last speech… in that Sridevi (the lead actor) says, that the most important thing in a marriage is trust and respect and being there for each other… that there are days one partner will feel down than the other… the job is to bring the other up as an equal… not compete… complement…

To tell our kids… pursue your dreams… whatever they are… and when you are interested in someone, share your dreams with them… it maybe to have children and nurture them to the best of what you have… it could be to become the next Elon Musk… or the next Mukesh Ambani… or have a relaxed life in a small village… no judgements… let it be yours… and know your partners aspirations…

Jointly figure out how you both will paint the canvas of your life together… based on what colours you guys have or life gives you… and adjust to each other along the way… for someone in teens will not be the same in their 20’s and then in their 30’s… people change… and let not the community define what your joint masterpiece should look like or have… Tell you that it definitely needs to have a shade of red… and tinge of blue… and a dash of green… and splash of yellow… there are no set rules… not necessary as well that both of you contribute equal colours of each shade… if one has more yellow and no green… and the other too has less blue and no green, than let your canvas be less green – if you don’t care about the green… don’t go by society expectations of having a green and force one of you to waste your little blue to mix with yellow just because the society expects green… define for yourselves the colours on your canvas and be responsible for it…

In a parable about what women want, when Sir Lancelot (SL) agreed to marry a witch to save his friend King Arthur’s life… the witch gave SL a choice… the witch could be a good looking during the day or during the night… What would he want the witch to be when… To which SL said whatever the witch wanted… and because of that the witch decides to be good looking all the time…

The answer was whatever the woman wanted… not a definition… of good looking or a witch… Of either day or night… it was whatever the woman wants… and if the choice was to be a witch all the time then so be it and if the answer was to be a good looking woman all through out then so be it… Or anything in between… It was left for her to decide…

The society applauds Sir Lancelot’s decision giving the women the choice to decide… and also subtly defines the witches decision to be a good looking women through out as the right one… both are wrong… the applaud and the definition!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ritwika says:

    Something I totally believe in. If we talk bout equality, why applaud? I don’t like a separate queue for women, give one for old aged, sick, mothers of infants n pregnant ladies instead. That’s humanity.
    Loved the article

    Like

    1. vdgandhi says:

      Thanks for reading and the resonance.

      Like

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