What is the gravest loss a person can incur? Someone frivolous would say- Money, someone with greater depth and realisation about how life runs would say – passing away or passing on of loved ones is a loss that can never be repaired. True that!
But while we are living, we learn to survive with or without people. Even if they pass on, we can find solace in the fact that they loved and cherished us as we do them.
In my very humble opinion, the greatest loss a person can lay oneself open to is the loss of respect, whether it is in the eyes of our loved ones or in our own judgement.
It isn’t rocket science to understand that not all of us are destined for great things, not all of us would be remembered by a multitude, not all of us would earn the celebrity status, few amongst us will earn a handsome living but there runs a common thread between the greats and the ordinary ones, like us.
All of us have one Life and we need to prioritize it in such a way that we make the extraordinary come alive even in the mundane. We may not be a Ratan Tata, an Indra Nooyi, an Amitabh Bachchan, a Lata Mangeshkar, a Mark Zuckerberg or a Steve Jobs to inspire an entire generation but we are humans too and it is upto us to be exemplary atleast to our own children.
I have written time and again about how I look upto both my parents for everything in my life. The way they have led theirs, their experiences and conduct even in the face of adversity, their even temperaments, their integrity and honesty have far surpassed any flaws that are bound to seep into a human character. I am proud to be their daughter although sometimes theirs are huge shoes to fill in.
It’s not always that, parenting goes right. I may not be the most appropriate person to talk about it but I have observed, at close quarters, children losing respect for their fathers or mothers. It used to baffle me because it was a completely alien concept for me. How could one hate one’s parent? Way back in my school days, I had some classmates who rarely spoke about or to their mothers. Being an impressionable child myself, I had spoken to my mother about it and she had wisely advised me not to be judgemental or take sides, better still to mind my own business and not put my nose where it wasn’t required.
With years and age came maturity and a kind of experienced comprehension of human nature. During my teaching years, I came across a couple of girls who hated their mothers. For one it was easily explained – she had a step mom and the girl had never warmed up to her but there was another who just couldn’t tolerate her own natural mother. Try as I may, I couldn’t understand that kind of hatred.
Some years on, I moved back to my hometown to be with my parents and thus nearer to my extended family too. True, it is trying, living with people of a generation that doesn’t understand your reasons and don’t approve of your way of doing things and true, there are disagreements too but at the end of the day, they are our parents and we learn from their experiences. Wherever necessary, we also tell them a better way of handling things. Hate never enters this equation. Not with the parents atleast. But that’s me and my life. Not everyone has the same circumstances.
Today, more than anything, I understand the wisdom behind my mother’s words when she had told me not to be too inquisitive about the lives of my friends and more specifically – never to judge. ‘You don’t know their truths. Not the same applies to everyone’, was her constant reply to my curious wonderings.
I have seen grown men losing respect, losing face in front of their own kids. They can’t handle the ever increasing pressures of modern day living and give in to vices like drinking to drown their sorrows, gambling to earn an easy buck, borrowing to pay back previous debts. It is a vicious circle. Instead of facing life headlong with grit and determination, they succumb to weaknesses of the body and soul which eats away at their family lives.
Far from being heroes or inspiration to their kids, they become embarrassments for their families. The impact on the children is life altering. They either become copies of their fathers, taking up those vices as their own or end up hating their parent and going against anything and everything they suggest. Either ways, lives get ruined.
This is the problem, but is there any use writing about the problem without suggesting a solution? My solution is simple and has to come from within.
Marriage is not just a social obligation that we have to perform when the time is right, instead it is a responsibility which should be taken only when one is ready for it. Becoming a parent makes one accountable. We don’t have to lead extraordinary lives in order to earn the respect of our children, we just have to make our decisions on the basis of what will be right or wrong for our family as a whole.
Seemingly ordinary lives can also be remarkable if the children come out cultured, if they value their resources, are intellectually & morally sound and most importantly if they respect their elders, effortlessly.
We should give them reasons for that respect. Just because they are our offsprings is not enough cause for ‘demanding’ respect. How we conduct ourselves, goes a long way in shaping the lives and characters of our children. We cannot expect them to outshine us when all we are giving them is a lot of negative energy.
Having said that, we have one life too and at times we also can be reckless and experimental. We may enjoy our little indulgences but responsibility towards our children wins the round, hands down. We cannot drink ourselves to hell at the cost of our family just because we happen to enjoy our daily pint. We cannot smoke away to lala land without a thought about its impact on our family. We may take calculated risks to earn big time but cannot be reckless enough to go beyond our means and set up a debt for our children to repay. That’s not how exemplary lives are lead.
It’s never too late to make amends. If our intentions are right and if our hearts are in the right place then we know what is the most important thing for a person- it’s the love and respect of the ones closest to us. And make no mistake, we have to work hard to earn that. The first step is to acknowledge our mistakes and then try to mend our ways as best as possible. Even if we don’t succeed in bringing in more money or stability to our lives atleast we can be content that we tried our best and that too with integrity.
Wouldn’t it be endearing to be remembered as a good human being, once we are gone? Why just talk about being remembered once we are gone!! Wouldn’t it warm the cockles of our hearts if people look up to us even in life? Wouldn’t it be remarkable to leave a legacy of righteousness and morality for our kids to follow and pass on?
Start making amends today. We don’t know what is in store for us tomorrow.