back to Now –
let’s relate Part 1 with our ancestors, our grandparents generation and then our parents’ generation and then us, since we are talking of culture and it is all about cumulative effect.
Our grandparents belonged to an era when resources where ‘scarcity’ and ‘collectivism’ values where stronger if not strongest. it was an orthodox culture with little air of change. ‘castism’ i.e. social distances were much visible in terms of social hierarchy so they were very cautious of that aspect. For them stability was crucial and so was social acceptability and since towns were small and mobility was limited, people knew each other. So he old norms were followed without scrutiny, an era of intellectual materialism. ofcourse there were attempts to purify those norms social reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Jyotiba Fule were some of the activists.
Simultaneously as per the patriarchal cultural norms girls where liability and boys were an asset. The women had an influence of existing norms. There was no internet or telephone – the spread of ideas was extremely limited, education was limited and so the new perspectives. The girls were married at an early age- mostly child marriage. And then there was this big size family of at-least 8! but they did it because there was uncertainty of life and no planning, as it was not ‘problem’ for them then, survival was only intention given the large child and maternal mortality rate prevalent then. (need of stability) As it was an emerging family it had huge constraint of resources, too many mouths to feed. The parents were busy in the basic activities of gathering food and providing shelter.
The children (our parents) where observing this and learned this as their culture. (the habits coming from sharing and scarcity are even visible sometimes). The children(i.e. our parents) were good at sharing of resources living within what was available. There was creativity but its focus and much emphasis was on survival of the stability. For them courage was to stand tall in the existing society and achieve their acceptability. There was no scope to challenge the believe system.
there was another peculiar event that was taking place i.e. for these emerging families the model of best family was that of ‘Bramhins’ which was the highest family in social hierarchy. but they had their secret norms inside family and what was visible for outsides was just pick of iceberg. this tendency of following and trying to be like upper caste is known as “sanskitization”, which is even prevalent now. This ‘superficial’ following on their norms muddled the cultural norms of overall society, prevalence of more intellectual materialism.
Then came our parents’ generation. (Post teenage) Castism was considerably reduced at least in practice but there was fear. They were just empowered to establish their identity as they were educated. however, there was still that fear of social acceptability, lack of creativity, lack of critical thinking and tendency to accepting things as they as since ‘it’s just the way to do the stuff!’.
There was flow of ideas from books, but there was no support for the challenger – the fight was still on for survival. The women where first seen as liability on father and then on elder brother – continuation of old trend. Also, the culture said respect the elders so there was this feeling of great gratitude! And love for each other.
the women were thankful to their brother and they were married to random person chosen by their brother or father, they had to accept it coz that was the norm and social acceptability,
(do listen to this song later: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOZBB53lGTk)
and that’s how even our mother’s got married.
Again rating the parameters, i.e. stability, freedom, acceptability, etc. there was certainty about life- each had a good job. Flow of information was still limited, but there was some scientific approach. The social norms where relaxed and culture was put open for introspection. But the structure of society was still patriarchal and male had all rights to take decisions, no democracy in family (even today it is presidential democracy with veto power at father). The female had accepted this norm for the stability of family and never thought of this as problem. Thus there was no thinking about other situation than what was going on.
They (mothers) had accepted the double work of job n looking after family as part of their life for the sake of stability, they lacked any time to think and reflect about their situation it was a strict tough routine for them. Out of box thinking rarely spur in such context.
even in some families the husband was beating or abusing their wife but the women didn’t knew other way because sadly even husband beating was a norm! not a problem for society, A part of deal called marriage. (disturbing it is but its ‘prescribed’ in the books of religious!!!)
the female were alert but helpless as they lacked any social structure support as the structure itself were male dominated, both physically and ideologically. They couldn’t challenge those norms as they feared that doing so might escalate the matter and the life of divorcee was not worth living! they even lacked financial autonomy. By then, meaning of courage was not in fighting but in surviving, survival mode made them defensive and reactive but to change they needed to be assertive and proactive, they didn’t understand that because their own interest was not their priority, as it was bombarded to them – marriage and family i.e. their 2nd life! they didn’t thought about what other aspect of life meant and how to get there.
Besides they choose to be defensive because of us, their children, to give us better future stability was necessary. they made us their source of inspiration. The women tried to find their peace of mind in their children, they invested all their emotions in their child, in this the ‘hurt mothers’ became over protective for the child… forgetting that anything in excess is bad even if it’s good.
Our generation was free from the scourge of castism, it was open for ideas, because our parents had created a better world for us to explore. we were set free to mingle with cross society, exploring various sub-cultural norms. There was scientific education and internet at our teenage to shape our ideas. Our family size was limited so there was abundance of resources and we had plenty of time to explore. And there was one big source of ideas the Television; we were so engrossed in it all. our parents where happy because they felt grateful that they could give their child so much that they didn’t had in first place.
We didn’t bothered about it, neither we bothered to help our mother when we were kid, we took it for granted as there was no uncertainty. We also accepted a norm to get out of room when any fight between any elder members was going on… never thought why to do so. (That’s how norms work) besides your opinion never mattered as you were child. (Color of hair not merit of idea that mattered)
even the mothers didn’t told us their story because by now they had developed new habits of accommodation.
Compared to our generation, we never feel need of accommodation, our knowledge was greatly shared between friends so the problems, resources and ideas. Then there was torrent of ideas as internet and mobile arrived, our world turned into a global village. We came in contact with the western values based on Individualism – freedom, liberality, rationality. And a funny thing happened.
Because of collectivism we had a strong family base a strong social support system that we took for granted. Then came this individualism mostly from movies and Internet. we thought this is a good way because it was ‘new’ and following our curiosity we accepted these views with their explanation. Meanwhile, ironically, the educated western societies adopted the collectivism values to build a strong social structure and stable family. they took the values keeping aside identities. they tried to made best from both societies.
This confluence of culture is intense right now. the mistake we are doing is we are not emphasizing or exploring our own good cultural values we are blindly declaring many of our good habits and accepting the western values (without evaluation) just by looking at western lifestyle. we are not learning.
Today things have changed drastically. The government is standing for rights of women. Human rights movement is vigilant. There are NGOs and civil societies ready to help and people know the effects of wrong doing. society has accepted need of change so there is deterrence. this has wiped away the superficial norms but the sticky norms, one which deals with self image still persists. one of them is status. is in our society nothing matters more than status. That is true in our family too. such sticky norms take the most time to change so we must wait, there is no point in fighting against it.
The women in our family are not proactive they are not assertive yet and the fathers cannot give up their domination psyche overnight it’s another sticky norm. both men and women have reached statuesque agreement and stability. And after we, their children becoming independent they don’t find point in defining new stability, they are okay with it, but that hurts us.
this is my observation and understanding of situation.
i don’t think its worth now changing the oldies unless its harming our present and future and they are open to such change. we should not try to model their world in our ideals. as individual they have right to live their life as they want so we must accept it and monitor it proactively, but if we think something is wrong we should express our opinion rationally, proactively, in clear language without being emotional.
fighting with cultural norm is challenging, if you want to do it – get out of all cultural structure, but if you want to live within them, accept them and induce small small changes- tipping point is triggered with such small changes and right opportunity. wait for it.
there is an old Chinese saying, “wisdom can be acquired in 3 ways, first by experience which is the bitterest. Second by imitation which is the easiest. Third is by reflection which is the noblest.” We try to learn things by first 2 ways but hardly use the third because the art of reflection asks for giving up all help thoughts, belief and judgment. It asks us to evaluate them impersonally.
anyways, lets enjoy what we have today. The past must not haunt present if present is hurting be assertive, if culture is not allowing you to do so, if it’s a sticky norm, you must accommodate and adapt accordingly, fighting will only hurt you. besides the problem in fighting with stupid is they ultimately drag you to their level, so it’s better to evade that situation creatively. Know their norms and be proactive, once you win heart, you can softly expand your views and win back your freedom.
finally, its a know fact that perfection does not exist and with that we must accept our culture with all its faults n extremes. its our so we must fix it. the purification process is going on and we should look at it cautiously.