Saturday, 7 December 2013

Parenthood as Vocation! Any takers!!

Monkey and her baby, Image Source: Internet

Career oriented parents

In a faculty room, once a gossip was going on. I'm half attentive to their talk, while going through exercise papers. Someone, a married lady said, 'better take a baby from shelf'. It caught my attention, but I didn't move my head. It was an unfamiliar elite talk in fashion. There was a lump in my throat. A feeling of nausea was building up inside. At last, humans too are commodity now!

The statement, ‘Taking a baby from shelf’ is like taking ready food packets from a grocery shop; It is an occupation, not a profession, and not at all vocation; it is a labour unpaid-for.

It amounts to building up career, by default, if not design! What is the   motivation behind this temptation? If it is a newly found freedom by the elite, it amounts only falling in fire from frying pan! To understand this, we need to go beyond established rationale of our decadent, fragmented mass society.

Without going into details such as, single mother or single father, live-in relationship, contract marriage, family planning, population explosion, sperm donator, surrogate mother, child adoption etc. We go straight for the parenthood.

Propagation is a plan by Nature

Procreation or Propagation is directly related to the survival of species. It is one of the Five Autonomous Functions bestowed by Nature to all the living beings – plants and animals (human animals included). The other four autonomous functions are Work, Leisure, Learning and Health. These, of course, are facilitated by Nature's schema of Environment, Ecology and Energy for the survival of species.

For example, a cat shift her just born kittens (they are born blind) to safe places to protect them from male cat eating them. Birds – male and female parents – feed their chicks in the nests, until they learn to fly. A lamb, as soon as born, stands on four legs and starts jumping and running around. Fishes lay eggs or fries in shallow waters among reeds etc., in hundreds or more; their survival rate is unenviable.

A plant in summer
And plants! They are the most blessed species: they propagate in various ways. Some of them are pollination by birds, animals, insects who survive on them! Dormant seeds, in millions, germinate as soon as rains begin. If uninterrupted by humans, the plants could grow into wild forests. They could engulf mighty buildings, monuments such as, Angkor in Asia.

Perhaps the human infant faces most precarious conditions from the birth. S/he is fully dependent for their survival on others. Tarzan myth indeed is exemplary, about parenthood.

Formative Age and Learning

The most pertinent question remains. Can social institutions, such as schools, orphanages, hospitals, homes for the aged etc. compensate the need for parenthood?

Family is not an institution, it is basically a unit of a community — a cohesive collective — which gives identity to every individual. The Institutions such as schools, governments etc. are faceless enteritis, where an individual cannot have ethical or moral relationship. For this reason they offer titles and awards.

Formative Age
Family and Community, both, offer building up and flowering of the new born persons at their Formative Age, with culture, values, morality, character, altruism, life supporting skills. This is best illustrated among adivasi – tribal communities. This 'action of building and flowering' of a person is not possible for any school in 'mass education system', even if one may claim to be progressive! They produce 'graded stereotypes'.

Thus teaches Buddha
By our mass education system, designed by the experts who are brought up by the same system, we too think within the same system — within the box. This goes on and on for decades, except for few adjustments and readjustments.

Family or Household

Thankfully Industrialization has successfully turned traditional societies into homogenised mass society, split the joint family into nuclear families, and finally, ended the family too.

Now, a 'family' is popularly called 'household'. It is a unit in the 'Mass Society' not a Community’. Household could be anything: even a group of migrant youths or adults in search of skills, jobs in towns or cities. They have no identity other than their 'occupation'. It is variously called, for example, 'housewife', not mother or grandmother. There the matter ends for the purpose of various surveys; it is useful data for the managers of the country's affairs.

In a country like India, there is so much diversity because of disparity in access to education. It is not that the so-called masses are uneducated: they do sustain by their education, though unrecognized by the system or the government!

Who is supposed to think in such a scenario? Any person — a citizen, young or old — can use creative thinking going beyond the stereotypical daily actions and notions. Everyone is blessed by creativity and personal space; even while doing daily mimicry in occupation.

If everyone practices Creativity, then perhaps Democracy shall begin at grassroots, not at the top rungs of social hierarchies!

And the children! We make them carry heavy school bag packs, books, notebooks and the  subjects... added by the periodical whims of the educationists, and now gadgets such as mobile phones and computers. We want them to be better citizens, before they come of age! In return what do they receive? Chaos perennial!

Complexities of modern urban society pose many challenges to parents. By admitting children to schools at age of three, their social life begins even before they have developed many physical and mental faculties. They enter into an alien world. We hardly know how it influences their Formative Age. A child depends fully on exposure s/he gets, first, at the family and immediate neighbourhood (streets included), then follows the peer group. Later on their public life that begins in formal education which is ready to influence them!

Parenthood is Vocation, not an Occupation

We need to assess and re-asses social situation again and again in the present flux. It may vary for each person or family in each strata of society. The overall situation, however, creates Alienation and Identity Crisis. In such a situation, parenthood is not an occupation, but a vocation which calls for attention, thinking, and meditation; and to reach wise strategies; it may change with every child, and every parent!

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.