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Pride and Sensibility

As one grows old; time accelerates for him so this may be a disconnect for many but i can’t remember when was it last that I saw people with a sense of pride in someone/thing or a sense of self-respect… hmm… can’t remember… query returns zero records. It used to do at some point of time when I was younger… probably in college.
When did people stop understanding that one should have self-respect and take pride in what ever one thinks is worth and not the other way round, which is the way it is these days – be proud of yourself and respect what you think is worth? The subject of the two issues have completely changed somewhere and this happened like Global warming! I was alive and have seen it happen! Maybe time has really accelerated; for i wasn’t around for the other events which changed us as a society, as a culture, as a race…
The issue is Since people these days have have no self-respect, it makes them forget that others do and they need to respect others even if not themselves! Likewise, if the subject of your pride is yourself, all you are concerned about is yourself! This is the source of all objectification.
Drive on any of our urban roads and you can easily notice this change. You are too proud to stop at a red light, too proud to let a guy on a bike overtake your Santro (and you add that disrespectful scorn too), too proud to respectfully allow that old gentleman to cross the road before you… And you cuss at all of them: “Hey Oaf! You could’ve crossed the crossroad by jumping the signal! Now because of you, my and my santro are gonna have to wait another signal! Damn You!”.
There was a time when i used to think that it’s consumerism that is responsible for this… for commoditising the nation and the world in general… having seen people from several other cultures, specially the commercial ones, I am rested that consumerism (Capitalism, in general too) is no where to blame for this. Everyone of the individuals from the capitalistic society (we are still capitalizing… with a burden of Democracy to drag around, the great Indian bird is usually too slow to respond to phenomenon, unless it’s a matter of life or death… heck, skip that too, we are the slowest with those.) that i’ve met has immense self respect and the same shows to others around them. The same applies to their sense of pride as well.
A question comes to my mind, and please do note that this is just a thought, no offence intended or implied… What history does America have to boast of? and yet they are all proud of their heritage, even if it be a 200 year old building. A stark contrast is posed by our country – a HUGE heritage to boast of and yet no one takes pride in it!
Have we really lost things worthy of being proud of? Has life for the average urban citizen become so unfair that he considers nothing worth his respect? What marked this change and what caused us to degenerate to such garbage?
I’m sure, we have them all around us, things that we can all deem need respect and things that we all must be proud of, both in the collective sense and at the individual level; how, is what befuddles me.
I don’t need to expidite either now and I’m sure you’ve understood exactly what I mean. The question i am searching for an answer is; Before we get anywhere, are we sure we are going the right way?

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  1. November 12, 2007 at 11:39 AM

    I think the problems you have discussed might be loosely related to self respect taken as pride but I relate to the traffic problem and public defecation to what Sudhir Kakkar has dicussed in ”The Indians’ (He has dicussed but it is not his idea). The basic premise is that so called western world to put in a crude sense has different notion of self perception of human body than others. To them belching and farting in a social gathering is not obnoxious where as belching in many civilizations is considered to be a sign of satiation!

    We keep our homes scrupulously clean like our body and we defecate the surroundings like we belch and fart.

    It is not linked with education or income as people at all the levels of such distinction do that. The problem might be with our urban planning and administration. I staunchly believe India needs more and better urban planners and policy makers than assembly line manufactured engineers. Through years and generations of neglect and systemic apathy people have forgotten the practice to complain and get your road fixed, get lights in your road, get more public toilets made etc.

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