Upbringing and culture can make all the difference in the world
"If you never have been hated by your child, you have never been a parent" (Bette Davis)
Upbringing is the key reason why each of us views the world in our own way. Though we might share some things in common, there is an individual taste or flavour that one cannot copy from the other, even if he or she tried. This is particularly noted in adult life, when our perception of the world further deepens and we start to see things in a more complex way. However, the manner in which we view it varies, at least to some extent, from one person to another. And the prime reason for this is our upbringing.
This is further related to a number of factors which are interrelated to one another from the perspectives of family, society and ultimately a nation as a whole. Family cultures vary from one part of the world to another. Japanese culture and American culture are not the same, neither are African and European cultures, even though all of these do share some things in common.
Nature and nurture
There is a saying ‘Nature and nurture shape a man into what he is.’ Now, it is important to note that both ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ come from family. It is an ancestral aspect which is passed down over generations, that is what has been defined as ‘nature’. As for nurture, this has all directly to do with family life. The mores and cultures vary from one family to another which is why we get so many different personalities all over the society. In addition, the terms ‘good parenting’ and ‘bad parenting’ should be carefully delved because the other reality is much more than that.
Parents can infinitely love and dote on their children all their life and meet everything on the child’s demands. The children then learn that you don’t necessarily have to ‘earn’ anything for yourself but rather ‘getting’ is more than enough. On the other hand, the middle and lower class generally emphasise the importance of ‘striving to earn’ a particular thing in life. ‘Hard’ parents tend to criticise their children a lot. Likewise, there are parents who don’t approve of imposing too much hardship upon their kids and would see their children in a relaxed, comfort-zone without any sort of stress. Now, the funny thing is that these two sorts of kids may get to know each other and become friends in school. This is where we get the concept of ‘community’.
The differences become more apparent when they grow up into teenagers. Perhaps this is why we hear about ‘teenage’ being the ‘critical period’ of life as it determines the person we are about to become later in adulthood. This-in general- is the time when people can truly change accordingly with their surroundings. The only differences are the ‘direction’ and ‘extent’ to which we change.
There are people of so many ideologies in our society. In terms of political beliefs, religious views, human rights conception and so many other things, family life does play a significant part in allowing people to make up their minds. An individual’s ideological path becomes smoother as he matures and sees the world in a better light. However, he also may get to share his views with his parents. These things happen often and the reason behind is simple - we are social creatures. We are impacted by what we see around us. And children learn from and look up to their parents. Incidents are always recurring in our society and we share opinions, ideas, contemporary thoughts etc. based on them, with our elders and they, in turn, with us. Such exchange of ideas and feelings is one of those factors which has helped to keep our world a place for living.
Society itself is like a gigantic jug brimming with people of various ideas. Therefore, it is very likely that they frequently meet up with each other. A parent should teach his/her children from an early age to hold others’ opinions with respect, even when not agreeing. That is decency and part of education. Whether the child implements it later in life is another issue but the initial teaching should be there.
Blocking the exchange of ideas and opinions is not the solution to a peaceful society. Politicians may of course think otherwise but these seemingly ‘calm’ and ‘stabilised’ situations in many autocratic countries may perhaps be the foreshadowing of an enormous conflict in mankind.
The only major reason we are having so many conflicts in our world is primarily because of disrespecting others’ views. A racist will generally reject any progressive ideas because he/she finds them ridiculous. Rightists and leftists are always at each other’s throats, one always thinking the other a fool. Conservatives think they are always correct in their beliefs because they are the majority and socialists are the minority. Religious fanatics prefer to enforce extremism. This leads to the growth of the root known as violence with the ultimate tree being war. This tree bears the branches of death, famine, looting and more. So if we want to remove the root of violence from the soil, then we should start by peacefully listening to others’ views. And that starts with parenting. We should strive to become decent people, rather than becoming only ‘educated’ people. Without peace, there can be no acceptance. The peace within our inner hearts foremost.
Listening to others’ perspective without causing dispute or conflicts shows signs of inner mental peace. And also whether he was right on certain issues himself. Questions would arise in his mind eventually and he may even understand the flaws in his own thinking. Thus, the better opinions can be accepted and he can change his past ways to a more improved, healthy mind and soul. We may not entirely agree or approve of a better opinion but we may eventually start to acknowledge and discover the flaws with the way we think. Revival of the mind definitely plays a vital role in shaping us into better human beings. This is one of the most significant reasons for which politicians all over the world need to realise the importance of freedom of speech.
Blocking the exchange of ideas and opinions is not the solution to a peaceful society. Politicians may of course think otherwise but these seemingly ‘calm’ and ‘stabilised’ situations in many autocratic countries may perhaps be the foreshadowing of an enormous conflict in mankind. You can’t simply put people under pressure forever. Eventually the surface will rise to the boiling point and there can’t be any turning back. As the saying goes, “the calm before the storm”.
* Chowdhury Taoheed Al-Rabbi is a student of Bangladesh University Of Professionals (BUP)