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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Relevance of Love, Respect and Patience in modern familial situations- A Men’s day special.

There have been a lot of studies commissioned to ascertain the causes of family breakdowns, divorces, etc., but without going into those results we can summarise that Love, Respect and Patience are the three prime factors which make a family tick. When at least these three prevail in a relationship, issues and conflicts resolve at the earliest and the bond finds new thresholds and heights of synergy. If these factors are eclipsed or are absent, even silly ego clashes and difference of opinions lead to irreparable ruptures in relationships, including litigations and other court matters.

So it is arguable that in these times of super efficiency and high-strung performance anxieties, we need to balance the paucity of time for each other by deliberately taking out time to acknowledge each others role and importance in building up a successfully satisfying family; a family where someone is a father, a mother, daughter, a son, a brother, a sister, etc. While historically many of our societies have acknowledged women’s contributions and importance in sustaining a progressive society, acknowledging men was not considered necessary because of various reasons including chivalry itself. In these modern times this deliberate step of acknowledging a man’s role is also very important, just like acknowledging women on women’s day.

Several countries already have a practice of celebrating men’s day, this year ‘Save Indian Family’ along with ‘Hallmark’, one of the leading greeting card companies in India, have decided to mark November 19th as the first International Men’s day celebration in India.

Here are some images which could bring out the necessity of International Men’s day: Men toiling under the wrath of the hot sun, inhaling noxious exhaust all through the day only for returning home to be with his beloveds, and to ensure that all the members have enough supplies to survive on, to be happy even if he has to scorch himself this way for a lifetime. Men selflessly putting themselves in the line of duty and fire to defend their country and hence thousands of its citizens, who do not even acknowledge his contributions and sacrifice. Men making a living amongst inhospitable conditions like furnaces, oil rigs, deserts, hazardous waste management, toxic sewage, nuclear plants, and other high risk occupations, doing these only following certain values of ‘providing’, ‘sacrificing’, selflessly toiling and silently bearing the brunt.

I asked some close associates in the opposite sex about why there should at all be a men’s day these were the reactions. From the infant stage the stress of getting into diapers and restricting themselves into the damp contours till the time of relief, to the crammed school commute in rickshaws or buses, it seems that boys are more susceptible to the stress factors. This observation is well backed by the lowering of the age for heart attacks among males, which now a days is not uncommon at the age of even thirty five!. Another observation was simply that they deserve a men’s day just because they are the ones who get entangled in the cross fire between a mother in law and a daughter in law, but I thought aloud why cannot these ladies cease to have a cross-fire at all! . Anyway it was a majority of approvers after the initial cynicism faded away into realisation that indeed men need a day to relax and to feel good that the world has finally decided to acknowledge his efforts and existence.

Centuries of social conditioning aid in sustaining this seemingly obscure behaviour of self-destruction; and this has been one of the most important traits of man throughout the history of mankind. Roles of men and women has evolved with the need of the times, and its still evolving in the modern era of ‘Knowledge’ where most of the jobs are knowledge based and not based on physical strength. Nevertheless the jobs which still has to be done manually, which has an element of risk and physical strength to it, gets done by men by and large- the responsibilities which they discharge without even batting an eyelid, owing to the same social-conditioning and inherent traits of putting oneself in the line of fire.

It is natural that nothing but spectacular or nail-biting gets noticed in this world, the same limitations of public perception paves way to the discounting and almost discrediting of the efforts by men. When a man does his duties, as per the social situation he is in, it is just that he is fulfilling the bare necessities of his existence. All said and done he neither gets appreciation nor acknowledgement for what he does in his lifetime, and since a man is not supposed to cry in desperation he is short-changed in that department too!

Earlier when men were supposed to defend kingdoms, farms, hamlets, households, dignity of his womenfolk, etc., may be expressions of love were in the form of social status, reverence and fear offered by the rest of the society. But this we are talking about millennia back in time, but in these times of ‘knowledge’ how do people acknowledge and appreciate each other, what other than ‘expressions of love’, an almost equivalent to a hug, a day earmarked for somebody who needs a hug. But again it is universally wondered why man needs a day to acknowledge him, its almost like on one day you have women’s day and all other days in an year are for men. This is as fallacious as saying; all the unsold toffees are there for the shop owner to enjoy! . Unless one is hugged, the person remains un-hugged; there is no shortcut to this road.

Connecting all these impressions to the familial situation that is prevailing in our society these days is also important. The way young men and women have dearth of respect and patience, if not love, in their relationship as a couple, it is almost imminent that more single parenting situations arise, a rise of a father-less society to be specific, given the inclination of our judiciary and society- denying fathers the rights of the children and thereby actually denying children their fathers. Again there have been numerous studies, the result of which is not oblivious to common wisdom too, that single parenting leads to behavioural aberrations in children and which in turn leads them to be adults with major personality disorders. Do we owe this to our children, a reality worse than ours?

An even daunting extension of the above scenario is the specter of fragmented families not in touch with each other, leading to even marriages among biological brothers and sisters. This is not at all figment of anyone’s imagination since these scenarios have already manifested themselves, almost extensively, in the western world, who are unfortunately the fore-runners of this scenario too. The moot question before us, as a nation proud of its families as strong building blocks, is that whether we would want to ape the west even in the way their societies have disintegrated into total anarchy. If not, why don’t we sit up and take lessons from the way they have disintegrated, and what to be beware of, what the west has painfully realised and is taking up as first-aid, moreover revisiting our morals and values for its time-tested efficacy and clairvoyance, in sustaining families as units of excellence and satisfaction.

What can we do as individuals? , a lot, is the answer. We can lead by example for one, and that’s the only way our children will imbibe values for a lifetime, we could start by respecting each other, we can salute the completeness attained when a man and woman join together. A complete entity, with so much diversity in life-skills and traits, could not be attained in a single organism and hence we had to be split (for fans of evolution- we had to evolve) into man and woman. Since we rightly have a women’s day let us complete the circle of goodness by having a men’s day, where we acknowledge the men in our life, be it a father, brother, son, uncle, nephew, friend, grand father, cousin, doctor, boss, anyone who you have thought favourably of, let them know your appreciation, lets keep a day in honour of them too- NOVEMBER 19th – is International Men’s Day.