June 18, 2013

Life is a gradual process

The gradual nature of our life’s change progression is a life-principle none of us with a rational mind can dispute. The way biological organisms evolve is a clear example, except of course for some mutations that occur unexpectedly constitute a very minuscule proportion of the change that happens in evolution.

The social processes that happen in our life also operate along an extension of this principle. Actually it is again related to the inability of our minds that is a product of habit and past experiences to accommodate too much change too quickly. Fast change often flounders because of this. No doubt we can establish new arrangements in the way we live by being coaxed or persuaded into making such changes. New arrangements in lifestyle, parenting, governing and even the social structures along which we re-orient ourselves in communicating with each other, socializing in modern ways all have their seeming benefits in the new ways we impute value to life. But these have their downsides too which are often not as enticing as deterrents when the glitter of change lays bare its attractants.  Engines make us go a bit faster than sailing and we say time is money but there is loss in the time we have to enjoy nature and the benefits of communing with nature which is our human essence, the forfeiting of which takes its toll in lost benefits of human relationships. In similar vein, the change of larger families to nuclear families, the change from mobile to sedentary lifestyles, from healthy foods to fast foods and fizzy and energy drinks, the coffee culture and the change in social relationships these engender. Or the change from the presence of grandparent to keep the narrative of life connected to our grandchildren to the loss of these valuable assets that languish in the solitude of empty homes in the islands while their children live in the lonely throng of Male with their babies taken care of by a foreign Aya while both parents fend in jobs outside their home. Those kids will be the parents and citizens and leaders of tomorrow. All these are changes that we are inexorably swept into and the pros and cons of which we have not ventured to reflect on because the modern lifestyle is so enticing. The conscious mind can be attracted and coaxed into believing the goodness of these and perhaps there are lots of it embedded. But the subconscious takes time to fathom the vagaries of the challenges and settle into the routine. 

That is perhaps what's different in the West and in the East. The West created these ways through an evolutionary process of change that took several centuries whereas for us in the East this is a leap-frogging we attempt to do just because these ways seem more attractive by the very fact that they are modern. It is an enticement to be like someone else -- a renunciation of the old - the wisdom of our ancestors who had also, through the necessity of time and the exigency of the environment, adjusted their lives or created novel ways to respond to those challenges in appropriate ways to live in harmony with our environment.

The biggest challenge today however comes from our espousing of the new process of democracy. While the basis and principles of democracy are non-negotiable to my mind, the ways we have instituted to give effect to this edict has obviously manifested its flaws. Otherwise we would not be such an angry nation upset with each other, shredding and fragmenting age old relationship of friendship and family bonds that are the bases of our society. Surely something must be wrong! And unless we search in urgency for alternatives to rectify this decadent process, we may have to shed many a tear in a future that is laced with fear and anxiety.

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