Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Principles, Values, Whims and Fancies

For discussing the concepts of faith and religion, we need to establish some fundamental vocabulary. I found the following words pretty useful for taxonomy.

Principles: This is the universal truth - a moral compass. The principles are universally common for every homo sapien for sustaining a society - Dont steal, Dont kill in a non-war situation, Dont commit adultery etc., While these are pretty basic, it is hard to imagine a society which can survive without these principles. Every decent human being should follow these principles and there are no 2nd choices.

Values: While they are as important as the principles, there is no one universal value. My personal value can be different or even diametrically opposite from another person without either one being right or wrong. Eating habits for instance. The 'values' form the root of the family tree and gives a strong foot hold in the world personally. Hence it is mandatory and expected that one should communicate those values which they found important on to their children and progenies especially when they are young when they would listen to you(watch little TV, eat vegetarian, pray to Vishnu etc.,) But it is insane and unethical to impose these values on any and every stranger that comes on the way. An analogy would be every mother is important for her kid but it is childish if we compete 'whose mother is better than whose' It will only result in some peeing competition.

Whims and Fancies: Very self explanatory. You like red color dress and let that whim stay with you. Dont even bother telling me why you like it or why I should like it even if I am your kid :)

Now with the vocabulary set, religion, mother tongue(s), eating habits etc., I see as mainly 'values'. It is important to educate your kids about those 'values'. You gotta tell your kids their values may not be the same as someone else and why it is still ok. But in immigrants (whether it is tamils living in Bombay or Indians living abroad), it is despicable to see how mostly people try(unsuccesfully) to avoid standing out. They want to just become one of 'them'. Starting from naming the kid with mono-syllable names just so that they can be addressed easily by Americans to not educating the religious values for the fear of being labeled as 'uncool' by the kids, you can see these attempts conspicuous in Immigrant families.

While these values MUST be taught to their kids, it is equally annoying when some one tries to impose his/her values on others. If there is one thing I am proud of being an Hindu, it is the fact that we do not have any formal procedure for proselytization. I find it despicable when the religious fanatics accost strangers in the name of Christ or Mohammed or whomever to talk them in to changing their religion. They truly believe that their faith is a 'principle'not a 'value'.

Even worse is when people mistake their 'whims and fancies' for 'principles' and try to impose that on people. I have heard people saying that they dont like people because of the way they look or how they dress.. Stupid they may be, one can never underestimate the potential of a group of idiots especially if they own a gun ;) Next time when you like or do not like another person or an act ask yourselves whether our inclination is due to 'principle', 'value' or 'whims and fancies'. Likewise when you hear anyone preaching, ask yourselves what they are preaching 'P', 'V' or W&F'. I have found much easier to segregate the content once I understood this classification.

All right that is the sprinkling from my side. Have a wonderful new year !



At 5:34 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

Nice post da. I completely agree. One thing I have the doubt on based on my (albeit very limited) experience is that thing you say about parents not teaching the values so that the kid doesn't stand out and becomes one of them. This, I believe, is more due to the humiliation by the peer group and inability of the kid to respond "coolly" rather than the reason you mention. I think only experience can teach us better. After all, they don't say without any profound thought, (Hindi)"Ganga gaye Gangaram, Jamana gaye jamanadas." or "When in Rome, be like romans."


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