Thoughts and other trivia...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Songs of Innocence

Years ago, I remember, we were in my friend’s car when I asked him what he thought Justice Ramaswami’s kids must be going through at the time. Just that morning, we’d heard that an impeachment motion had been initiated against the man. That a Supreme Court judge was in the dock for corruption was shocking but I think I was able to ride over that pretty quickly because my real concern in the case was the man’s children. In their shoes, I know, I would’ve felt devastated. Just to imagine myself in their shoes, with allegations of their father having to face such humiliation, was a horrifying thought.

Today, there’s news about a brawl in Bollywood, between a superstar and a film director. I really don’t care who is right here or who started the fight. My first thought this morning, as I made my coffee in the kitchen, was about their kids. Is this the news they’re going to wake up to? That their fathers were involved in an ungainly, drunken fight? How’re they going to react? What will they be feeling?

I’ve said for long that it must be mandatory to get a parenting license before one can have a child. Just the will and ability to have one doesn’t necessarily imply that one is worthy. Even as their kids watch, parents jump red lights, give and accept bribes and cheat, con and tell lies to get the smallest benefit they can. What message does that send out to the kids? That it’s okay to do anything to get ahead?

For most of us, I think, being a parent means giving the best we can to our kids. The best schools, the greatest vacations, the luxuries and, practically, anything that our money can buy. But, providing is just one small part of it, I think. It’s just as important, if not more, to teach them to be good, responsible citizens. To be sensitive and honest. To be kind. And, the best, and only, way to do that is to be each of these things yourself. To set an example for your kid.

And, what example did the corrupt judge set for his children? What example have these brawling, drunken Bollywood folks set for their kids? What do their kids think, feel and see when they find their parents’ photographs in newspapers for fighting, cheating and for having affairs, etc? Do they grow up thinking this is normal? Or, will they grow up to be dysfunctional misfits with little or no social skills?

I know that I’d rather die a hundred deaths before I’d let my kid see me misbehaving in a drunken fit or be involved in something illegal and corrupt. I’d never be able to live with myself if I couldn’t be a good role model for my kid.

Most people react with indignation and shock when I tell them about my licensing theory. It’s completely undemocratic and radical, I know. But, the world’s a bad enough place and I really believe that many of us aren’t fit to be parents. And, I include myself in this list because I think I’ll be a terrible, terrible role model.

True greatness will elude most of us but - and I’ve always believed this - almost everyone can make a truly great and lasting contribution to society by raising their children well.


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