‘Good parents give their children roots and wings.
Roots to know where home is,
wings to fly away and exercise what has been taught to them.’

Various disturbing and serious issues have evolved in the contemporary society of ours, which are not specific to a particular segment of the world or globe. The deterioration of values, ethics, and morality is global and not specific. Sickening of a society is an indication of sickening of the minds of its people or even vice versa. As Ayn Rand rightly writes in her novel ‘The Fountainhead’ that a man’s character is the product of his premises. It is ideas that determine social trends that create or destroy social systems. Therefore, the right ideas, the right philosophy, should be advocated and spread. 

For the formation of a healthy society, two different spheres of activity had been allocated to men and women. Traditionally, women were entrusted with the work of managing the home and raising worthy and responsible children. Men were assigned the task of maintaining the family and earning. There is now a drastic change in this earlier scenario. Women are almost equally participating in the external activities and earning. This has lead to a great deal of intermingling of the two sexes. Women have become as career-minded and ambitious as men (maybe even more in some cases). Lack of employment makes her feel worthless now. To what extent this changed scenario is correct or right is another issue but what is undeniable is the fact that this trend has lead to some issues that the modern world is facing like extra-marital affairs, pre-marital affairs, adultery, physical abuse, and sexual harassment at work places, rapes, etc.

Somehow, a complex has been created in eastern people about their culture, traditions, ideology, and lifestyle. This has made them lack self-confidence and feel inferior. Westernization (as understood by the common man) has brought diverse problems for the society, creating an imbalance somehow. It seems ridiculous that people should think that emulating the western culture and lifestyle would enhance their status and uplift them. Doing this can make the Eastern people neither modern nor happy. The society may not necessarily benefit from this urge to be someone else and to live someone else’s life.

Modernization is not to be mistaken for Westernization. Modernization is a social change and advancement in every aspect of life- social, economical, psychological, ideological, moral and spiritual. People in this part of the world are mistaking modernization for Westernization. It is a matter of regret that we have been intoxicated and over-powered by evil, immorality, and vulgarity. We are trying to adapt the culture and values of another society, thus generating an impression of weak roots and tradition. This will uproot us, kill us, intoxicate our lives, and destroy our society. In the modern society, faith in God is weakening and the religious beliefs are losing their importance, which is a sad thing. It is rather pitiable situation that our society is being dominated by certain social evils. 

Take the issue of women. Atrocities meted out to women need no introduction. Indian women, or rather Asian women have been subjected to many hardships. But in the past, even their counterparts in Athens, Rome or England were no better off. No one should suppose that the Christian heritage is free of such atrocities. It is simply a matter of time and age. Some societies develop rapidly; others take longer time due to various constraints or limitations. These are mainly monetary or economic ones. Even if our society is not an advanced one, all its members ought to try to improve it by cultivating the right ideas, values, and culture. These efforts do not call for imitating the culture of another society or in looking down upon our own. 

In the pursuit of false modernization, the eastern women have mixed the two concepts of economic independence and equality. These women symbolize modernity with being able to attain a job for them, as if the issue ends there only. It is absurd that women should think that employment or economic independence alone could obtain equality. Had this been the case then each working women in the western as well as eastern world would cease to struggle for an equal status and be aptly called as modern in the real sense of the word. As the western culture and lifestyle are increasingly overpowering our women, they believe that their dress code and traditions are outdated and feel worthless without any employment. This feeling is wrong, for work, whether it is indoors or outdoors, can never be worthless. Managing a company or managing a home is equally respectable and challenging jobs. Both require rationality and tact. Her obsession to be like men or the western women may pave the way of her downfall.

Ironic though it may be but taking a look at the western society reveals a new trend. Working mothers are now finding it difficult to manage their career as well as family life. It is believed that highly ambitious women have not been able to maintain their maternal touch and tie with their children. In fact, many have given up well-paid jobs because they feel that it is more exciting and fun to assume the role of housewives. Raising kids is a full-time job and there is nothing as noble as that. There is a growing minority who believes that their true vocation is at home. This is a reverse trend that contradicts the notion that modernity implies getting employment. Being employed in the present day world may be a part of modernity but not an essential condition. 

There may be some ignorance among these emulators about the crime wave that has swept the western world. Sex crimes and social evils are rampant there. Issues like drug abuse, physical violence, alcoholism, psychological disorders, accidents, prostitution, rapes, etc are common. Discipline is breaking down in their homes. Religious bindings and sanctions are fast disintegrating. Morals and ethics are vanishing. The sacred institution of marriage has weakened and holds no meaning for the people. There is increase in the divorce rates and the rate of births to unwedded mothers. Psychological disorders among the children have increased due to the breakdown of their families and loosening of the relational ties. In Germany, more than 40% of the pre-school children have single parent. There seems to be a direct relationship between an insecure family background and social problems.

America today is deeply worried about its youth. Various authorities believe that they are raising spoiled, indulgent generation. There have been many incidents of violence and killings by younger generation there. In 1999, America was in the news for many sensational school killings. The social unrest in their society may be due to varying reasons such as excessive exposure to television and satellite channels, video games, broken homes, drugs, depression and psychological disorders. These are all symptoms of a disturbed population. American lifestyle is leading them to a painful living and a feeling of worthlessness. It has been reported that Americans are less inclined to get married as the institution of marriage is weakening. This issue has widespread repercussions on their society and the world at large. This adverse trend can affect the physical, emotional and economic health of all people living in the society. This is the current scenario of the much-coveted part of the globe.

If we want to be modernized, then we ought to modernize our outlook, develop positive mentality and nurture great thoughts, for we can never go higher than our thoughts. There is a need to understand and respect the essence of modernization, tradition, culture, and civilization. Virtues can be imitated but the culture and roots are not to be forgotten or disrespected. Our people ought to stop imitating the west for their lifestyle and appearance but try to emulate their virtues. These, I believe, are dedication towards their goals, a professional work culture, and consideration for others, logical reasoning, and their individualism. Eastern women ought not to feel that their tradition or culture, which expects them to be modest in their conduct and appearance, is outdated. Our dress code is the most appropriate during the present times. It is always decent to dress modestly for every one- men as well as women. More than ever, a woman needs to believe that in this technical and materialistic age, there is still something simple and fundamental left in the world…there is really nothing more noble and fundamental than a modest and chaste woman. 

There is enough evil and unrest in our society for us to bring more. We may lose our identity and honor in the process. We need to understand the difference between the western culture and that of our own. This difference does not signify the superiority of one over the other. We ought to recognize our individuality, strength, and roots. 

Modernization is to be associated with high and noble thinking, scientific temperament, and technological advancement- the overall development of living and working standards. It is a matter to ponder upon that traditional values as well as modern thinking can co-exist. We need to be progressive in the right direction, broadening our outlook. A large-scale social transformation is required, primarily through modern education, political and social consciousness, economic reforms, and social uplift. For that each citizen and individual has to contribute and participate actively. Circumstances can’t be changed. But your response can be. There has to be an initiation with regards to a positive transformation of the people, leading to the uplift of the society as a whole. This initiation has to begin from the ‘self’. As Aldous Huxley said:

There is only one corner of the Universe 
you can be certain of improving 
and that’s your own self

If each individual member of the society starts improving his own self by recognizing his duties, responsibilities and rights, discovering his philosophy and values, implementing his teachings and beliefs in the most dedicated, sincere and professional manner, then a social transformation in the right direction is inevitable. Modernization is to be welcomed but old beliefs and values are not to be uprooted. Otherwise, it will kill the very spirit of our culture. To quote Mahatma Gandhi,

It is necessary to keep the windows open.
It is equally necessary that we refuse to be blown off our feet


More by :  Naira Yaqoob

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