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War and peace begin at home

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar  

Most films and electronic games bubble with violence and show killing as a sport

“Why are you fighting with me? I am not fighting with you,” my five-year-old grandnephew told his much older cousin who was in a bad mood over infantile arguments that were going against him. I was keen on watching how they sorted out their differences, but they moved into another room, and when they emerged at lunchtime, they were friends again.

Long after that day, I thought about that little boy’s remark, “I am not fighting with you!” An only child — like so many of his generation — I hope he holds on to that idea as a talisman as he grows up. It made me look around at the models of behaviour children below 10 are watching as they move into their teens.

Advertisements show that only the fastest and shiniest are worthy of respect. Marketing is aimed at our basest instincts. The purchase of something is not just for you to enjoy using it; along with its ownership comes the suggestion that flaunting it will make others feel unhappy, restless and inferior, and ha-ha, that should make you even happier.

Direct to the drawing rooms

Though we now have a wonderful range of children’s books written, illustrated and designed most imaginatively by Indians, most films and electronic games lead off in the opposite direction. They bubble with extreme violence. Killing is sport. Long before they are emotionally mature, children absorb chilling accounts of physical violence on the weak or the elderly. How are they going to learn that matters should be settled with discussions and not blows? Every adult generation feels some inadequacy in dealing with the next generation, but when we read about a youngster stabbed for his mobile phone or a gang of minors abusing their classmate, it is time to stop and think. Are these the kind of people who will care for their parents and grandparents in their old age?

Many schools are sincerely concerned about the spirit and imagination of the children in their care. They know that leading students through the academic side alone is like giving them only half a loaf of bread. The other half is personality and character development; crucially, how to get along with fellow students and family members. In achieving that 100%, can they not gain some grace of spirit? Peace education in schools is misunderstood as something to do with seeking the silence of a cave. It is rather about learning how to manage the emotional side of the self in a cooperative environment. Are we doing enough to guide the next generation?

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:43:06 PM |

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