Normally, most of us would never consider the prospect of what one has become in the process of never ending pursuit of goals after goals in the journey called life. Not because one is aware and still consciously refuses to answer an uncomfortable question but because such a question has genuinely evaded his attention as well as escaped all attempts at germination in his mind. Whether we have become good or bad, compassionate or insensitive over time, emotional or logical, loved or hated can only be assessed if we devote efforts and ponder upon various aspects connected with this thought in a neutral and a detached manner. Any attempt at self-evaluation, with a biased or prejudiced eye using traditional lens of superficial parameters like acquisition of material wealth, bank balances or number of party friends will never yield a genuine answer. In similar manner vested interests and fake pretensions will also take you far away from the real result.
Before you get on with this activity, let me ask you, how have your outlook, perception and understanding transformed over time? Have your affiliations and preferences changed? After wandering through the daily rigmarole of hardships of life and engaging with people of varied mindsets, your views and opinions are bound to change or alter with a high probability of getting distorted too. Worse is if you seem to have unknowingly or unconsciously given up on those very qualities of yours that people once admired in you, the very reason why your friends and acquaintances thronged and hung around you more than anyone else. They found your company refreshing and invigorating. If this is not the case anymore, it is time to rethink and evaluate the kind of progress you think you have made. You might have gone down a different path. Are your good friends of years still with you, standing by you? Are you still loved and desirable as you once were? What have you become today?
Years back you were fresh out of college and a diffident chick in the ocean of life ready to carve out a suitable place for yourself. You did not know how to swim through the tumultuous world, yet you learnt it well enough in good time. You were ready to try out new unorthodox ways at achieving unprecedented success at work. Some of you might have learnt to be ruthless, insensitive and inhuman when dealing with people in your desire to rise through the corporate ladder to reach the top rung. Professional rivalry and competitiveness got the better of you. You were told that it is a mean world, there is no place for emotions at work and the rules of the game are all logical that are administered with your head not the heart. Consequently, you did not stop short of judging wrongly, perpetrating lies or leading a life of pretensions. You overzealously followed this cardinal rule over the years and landed up to the present time. What have you become today?
A parent guides and handholds a child in finding his way in this world. Protects the child from all the untoward events, things, inclement weather and hardships. A parent procures all sorts of comforts for his child so that one day he blossoms into a wonderful human being. Parents take good care of all their child’s needs in the hope that one day he is capable of leading a purposeful life. Through his teachings, a parent gives his child the gift of golden lessons of life with the aim of inculcating a value system along with virtues. However, children are not learning the lessons in school that is so evident in the national assessment surveys and ASER reports which paint not so rosy picture about learning outcomes. In spite of all this caring and thoughtful upbringing, our children are walking the undesirable path leading to crime. What we are witnessing today are outbursts of adolescent anger that manifests itself as substance abuse, gender crimes, sexual abuse, murders etc. The schools seem to be transforming into dens of crime. Simple misdemeanors or minor infractions on part of our children have become full-fledged crimes of first order. Could it be because of exposure to too much technology that has invaded their childhood leading to deprivation of sleep, feeling of loneliness and absence of proper vent to their feelings and expression? Could it be an early end of the age of innocence? Where did we as a society go wrong? What have our children become today?
Nowadays we are witnessing extreme climatic conditions that are unprecedented and keep breaching all records on heat, cold, rain, snowfall, earthquake, volcanoes etc. year after year. We are certain that the vagaries and unpredictability of weather is the result of our indiscriminate exploitation and plunder of natural resources, depleting green cover due to deforestation, rising pollution due to usage of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, coke etc. that emit greenhouse gases. Using inefficient ways and deadly fuels to satisfy our energy needs (for cooking, keeping warm in winters, lighting, entertainment etc.) is another reason of rising levels of pollution. The day is not far when there will not be enough fresh air for us to breathe and most of us will suffer from compromised health. There will be untold incidences of pollution related diseases like cancers of various kind and respiratory ailments. Is this what we want for ourselves in future? How can we promise ourselves a brighter future where health is at stake? Are we so insensitive towards our own needs and aspirations? What have we become?
It seems we as a society, thrive and flourish in an atmosphere of omnipresent corruption. Whether it is procuring a seat in a coveted school or getting a driving license or getting a completion certificate or procuring a contract. Breaking the law with impunity thinking that one will escape all punishment by bribing or greasing the palms is a regressive thought that fuels corruption rather than putting an end to it. We do not seem to think of the deleterious repercussions of our actions which aggravate matters and weaken our fight towards a corruption-free nation. If such practices continue, how do you think we will see the dawn of good times in our lifetime? The fight against corruption starts with each one of us and it is we who have to keep zero tolerance towards it. If we still tolerate it and act in a way that fuels and promotes corrupt practices, what does it tell about us and what we would have become?
Most of us are glued to the screens of our mobile phones as if it was the only thing in our possession worthy of all our attention and focus. It seems it has got us mesmerized and enthralled to the core. Where ever we are, we are totally occupied with our phones, be it inside bus or train or airport, inside our home and office. We do not leave it alone even while we are on the move, walking on the roads or jogging track. In my limited knowledge, I do not remember if anything in history has ever invaded our lives so much as the technology through the mobile phones. In a way the mobile phone has become something like an extended limb that is inseparable just as any other part of our body. As if driven by a compulsive disorder, we involuntarily and subconsciously check the notifications, comments, opinions, posts, WhatsApp messages etc. even if it involves a grave risk to our lives. Using mobile phones while driving is a common sight on busy roads. A study on Indian youth tells us that on an average a youth checks his phone 150 times a day. If it is not anxiety, then what it is? We might not be aware that harboring continuous anxiety can lead to ill health that could be a precursor to other lifestyle diseases. Have we become slaves to technology?
The only graph that seems to be showing a one way trend breaking all earlier records is that of crime. According to my limited understanding, one is truthful and forthright as long as he or she is not presented with a chance to perpetrate corruption. If a person gets a chance to embezzle funds, forfeit or purloin anything of value, he considers indulging in an unethical act his birth right. We seem to think that one lone warrior fighting organized corruption can achieve nothing. If he takes up cudgels against corrupt people or practices, he would have to suffer. In this scenario, he might consciously decide to be a party to it rather than oppose vehemently. Though this view cannot be generalized, there are many who are still incorruptible. Illicit and illegal businesses can be found all over and counterfeit products are being sold that are sure to play havoc with people’s lives and health. Crimes of passion are on the rise that are rarest of rare. What we understand after reading newspaper reports is that the people who commit these crimes are just regular people living amidst us or just simply one of our own kind. But for such deeds, Nirbhaya would have been alive today. Have we become criminals?
What have we become?