We are at the traffic signal. When a beggar is at our car window, we push them off, turn our faces, or raise the windows to avoid them.
Yesterday’s food went stale and we don’t feel good to throw it away or feed our pet dogs. But it’s alright for our house help to take it so that she can feed her kids happily. And we certainly feel good for helping her family.
We are buying clothes for relatives for a family wedding. The most expensive of the lot goes to those rich relatives and the cost gradually decreases in accordance with the social status of the receiver.
Inequalities are all around us though it may all seem just a part of our everyday lives! As a first step, let’s acknowledge the existence of such differences.
A – Addressing the issue of social inequality
Post #1 of the series: Instilling Social Equality in Children
To many of us, treating people who are not similar to us in status, caste, education, religion, etc. without care and kindness might not be a big deal. We tend to reflect the society and family we grew up in and we cannot be blamed really. But the more we begin to see the differences in how fellow humans are treated, the more are the chances that we begin to address the issue. While there can be a lot for us as adults to reform, this series is only going to focus on what can be done to raise children who can build more kind, more non-discriminative, and more inclusive societies than the ones of our times.
Yes, as parents we wish our children to learn science, math, languages, social skills, good habits, life skills, artistic skills, and some may also value kindness and compassion among everything else that we want our children to master. However, it’s not common that we think about seeding a sense of social equality in our children.
This series is an attempt at it!
Asking myself from, “What is social equality by the way?” to “Can our children create a society tomorrow where everyone is treated fairly?” I found that this pursuit of a parent is going to be far more complicated than it would seem. Complicated because, the parents that we are addressing here are people (that includes me as well) who themselves grew up in societies that did not treat everyone fairly; parents who are adults who themselves carry multiple discriminations, judgements, and biases in their hearts and minds, and parents who have not begun to contemplate the need for social equality in their own lives, let alone discovering it as a need for their children.
On the other hand, there can be children who pick up discriminations from elsewhere and not necessarily from their parents or home. For instance, I know the mother and family of the boy in my last post who said Brahmins are the most superior human beings in the world. It’s certainly unlikely that his parents could have put this thought in his mind. Neighbours, other children, extended family members, movies, TV shows, and there can be many other sources that can influence them and it might not be possible to trace what they are imbibing from where.
Thus, this series will not intend to point a finger at the parents or tag them responsible for everything about the children. Instead, let’s come together to share if we can do something on our part to guide them to grow into individuals who can accept diversity and dissolve differences in the years, decades, or generations to come.
Where do we begin?
Irrespective of where we are in this journey, let’s begin to address the need to create non-discriminative societies for their future. And what do we exactly mean by this? When our children grow up and see a beggar by the car window, how would it be if they gave him/her a smile instead of a frown? If yesterday’s food went stale, how would it be if they stood against offering it to another human just because they are under-served? How would it be if they valued relatives for their love instead of their status? If they gave a helping hand to a disabled child instead of staying aloof or making fun of their shortcomings?
Would you like to see your children, my children, and all the children growing up like this? It might seem like a dream, but not an impossible reality if we put our hearts into it!
How exactly is this series going to address the issue of social inequality?
There can be no one way to do this. It involves intention, contemplation, letting go of some habits, and imbibing several new habits. This series shall attempt to discover areas where we commonly act insensitive and practical tips to stay sensitive to the cause. If you have something to share, please write in the comments below or message me.