An Indian Civilizational Perspective

What should you pass on to your kids?

indian-kids-canoe-amazon-river.jpgA friend of mine was discussing how he was recently fretting over politics at his job and how that was giving him sleepless nights. He sees himself as the provider of his family and that is why he feels guilty and also simultaneously a feeling of inadequacy for not being able to provide for his kids, should something go wrong at his work. He is not the only one. I am sure many have been through that stage.

What he said thereafter was pleasantly surprising and showed my friend’s wisdom. As he analyzed the situation, he felt that his parents had really not prepared him to do what he was finally able to do in his life. Make a life and a family and live well in the US after a lot of strife in India. What he has been able to accomplish in his life is truly remarkable. Very few people I have seen can fight odds the way this guy has in his life. Therefore, as he rightly concluded, the most important thing given to him by his parents was not expensive life, but character full of grit. That one ingredient and ability to think through things were probably the most important gifts he had received from his parents.

I know every parent wants to provide the best for their kids, but when you know that life will present both, ups and the downs, isn’t it foolish to wish for only “ups” for our kids? If our very prayer for our kids is an inherent impossibility, then why do we even go there? I know there is an emotional reason for it, but practically and logically, such a prayer has no meaning.

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What may be more relevant perhaps is a prayer to make your kid more resiilient in life. Hard-working. Full of Life. Ability and grit to fight through against the heaviest of odds.

Am not being negative, but when negative times are a certainty, then its best to provide for ways to deal with them. And, that’s precisely what this friends realized and said “I was unnecessarily worrying. All I needed to do was prepare them to handle life”.

Really speaking, that’s all that is required to be passed on to the next generation by every parent.

Be certain of one thing – that the times and challenges before the next generation will be far tougher than what we faced. Things can only go downhill in the world. The World population is ~6 Bn today. If things keep proceeding the way they are, then by 2050, world will have ~10 Bn population. If such a mass of humans consumes even a certain fraction of the natural resources that the current affluent minority consumes, then one can kiss this earth goodbye. Water crisis, food crisis, Housing, Air Pollution – every nightmare can be a strong reality.

If you think what we have today is a tough world to handle, imagine when wars may break out over water or air or food. God may be “up there” somewhere and never seen, so one can rest for sometime. But without water or food, things can go from bad to worse in quite a hurry.

There is a solid – and somewhat real – scenarios of wars, politics,poverty abuse and disease seeming very “real”. if that happens then, chances are that conflicts would not remain local or retsricted.

It is easy to handle status quo, but harder to manage a moving target all the time.. which is precisely what life is! Getting support for that eventuality is an issue.

So, is the friend correct in preparing his kids up for any type of life? He wants them to learn to handle their lives – however it may come to them.

And that is precisely the prayer that I had for my kids for several years.

If they learn that hardships are dealt with by equanimity and confidence, then things could be better for them. Its not necessary for the parents to hand-hold the kids throughout their life. The kids will find it in them to find the way, once they are faced with a situation, if they have the necessary grit and fighting spirit. And THAT is critical in their personal life more than anything else.

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