Moral renaissance to salvage the world
By V Sivasupramaniam
Children need to imbibe moral values early in life. File Photo of Prime Minister John Key with the students of the Nanaskar Education Phulwari during his visit to the Centre in Manurewa, Auckland on October 17, 2010.
Every society needs to revive, refurbish and reinforce its morals and values, which are currently under serious threat of erosion by new challenges created by globalisation.
Modern information technology and other emerging scenarios of the global village can easily destroy the virtues and values built over thousands of years.
In this ever-changing world, people must be prepared to overcome the challenges and it is only fitting that due importance is given to ‘Moral Renaissance,’ which is the greatest need of the hour.
Morals are an invaluable guide for any society, particularly for the younger generation. Morals empower them to become mature citizens.
They are the principles of right and wrong, standards of behaviour, norms of life that help to build humane attitudes and foster better human relationship and world peace.
Character and discipline are the cornerstones of a sound moral fabric that take generations to build on sound educational and religious foundation. They form the culture of a society, community and the country.
This culture forms the basis of nation building.
Culture is organised system of behaviour and is normative because it defines standards of conduct.
According to anthropologist Edward Burnett Taylor, “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, morals, customs and any other capabilities acquired by man as a member of a society.”
The destiny of a nation is built on character.
Spiritual strength is character and the spirit of the people is their greatest asset, which builds discipline or regulated way of life at all levels.
The world is for living unitedly by all people. Moving with many people and living with them in harmony, sociability and understanding another person’s nature and stature is culture.
What is the basis for the uninterrupted continuity of human history?
Humankind was saved from destruction by cultured people of mature wisdom, not by emperors or those in battlefields.
The blood that Jesus Christ shed when he was crucified on the cross was the symbol of a culture; if his blood had not done so, the sins of the sinners would not have been washed away.
The teachings of Lord Buddha and Prophet Mohammed were the essence of a culture. They made the world a continuing history.
In the modern era, Mahatma Gandhi led India to freedom through the culture of non-violence, sans enmity.
The beauty of the interior (mind) is culture; the exterior beauty is civilisation.
Culture and civilisation are like the two sides of a coin. Culture within civilisation and civilisation within culture should articulate themselves.
It is a great responsibility on the parents, teachers, community leaders, religious leaders, policy makers and the media to build, instil and propagate the values of discipline and character in the younger generation to empower them to become balanced leaders and model citizens of their respective countries. This should be an ongoing exercise vital for any country.
As a multi-cultured nation, New Zealand could be a model for religious tolerance and cohabitation. It should lead the process of building valuable traditions, emphasising value-based education, religious involvement and inter-religious harmony.
Education is eternal and is much more than gaining knowledge.
Knowledge is power and love gives us fullness.
Education moulds the character and prepares one to face challenges in life; it promotes humility and correct attitudes to harmonise human relationship to foster world peace.
Education is not limited to schools and teachers; it overflows into the home, workplace, community and the environment; parents, peer groups and elders become participants and promoters of lifelong education.
Education should strengthen the minds and hearts of the youth.
Community and religious leaders, elders and teachers should shoulder responsibility. They should be positive in their community-based attitudes devoid of personal ego and selfishness and lead by example.
Education should be based on values, such as reading, recording, rewriting, recalling and reviewing. It should promote discipline and concentration in children during their formative years.
Education with good behaviour weans children away from negative attitudes, puts them on the correct path and helps to build confidence and knowledge.
Mental training, mental fitness and mental alertness make them good decision makers in life. Emotional intelligence helps them to develop anxiety, anger, worry and danger controls to make them good community leaders.
Self-motivation, self-discipline, self-confidence and self-reliance are traits that build determination, persistence and perseverance in life.
Education should promote the Three ‘Rs’ in children: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all their actions. In later life, these qualities would keep them away from drug abuse, vandalism and other antisocial behaviour.
Respecting elders, teachers and a high sense of gratitude should be inculcated in the young minds from their early age and these should grow with them. They should be taught high values of accountability and transparency in public life.
It is equally important to teach children to be open to meaningful changes, without allowing their values swept away by the fast moving world.
They should be trained to share their knowledge. A well formed, harmonious home is the forerunner for development of the child.
The home is the child’s first experience of the world. A loving and caring atmosphere is the real foundation for a child’s life.
An ideal family is an ideal university.
Teachers should be committed to faith and the future of humanity, country and the world. They have a vital role in building an ideal nation.
Teaching is not a trade but a calling, a vocation and above all a mission.
For children, percept and practice are more important than preaching. They live more by example than by words. Elders should live the way they preach; there should be a close inter-relationship between word and deed.
More than 2000 years ago, Thiruvalluvar, one of the greatest poets of all time wrote in his famous ‘Thirukkural,’ “Karka Kasadara Karka; Katrapin Nirka Atharuku Thaga.” Translated into English, this means, “Learn well what should be learnt; and thereafter, behave and live accordingly.”
Religion is a binding force that deepens the solidarity of the society; all religions require us to look upon life as an opportunity for self-realisation.
Religion is the inspiration for life. It should not be confined to dogmas or rites but should help people develop abiding faith in absolute values of truth, love and justice.
A child should be made to realise that truth is God. True knowledge is supreme and is eternal. Religion should help to appreciate and achieve the values of humanity.
The need for religion, a system of thought and devotion to a cause are all intrinsic elements of human nature. A religious system that is capable of responding creatively to every fresh challenge is healthy and progressive and hence should be appreciated and welcomed by all.
If religion becomes alive and real, the face of the world may change.
Every religion is sacred and hence should not be misused to attain other ends.
There should be an inward change through discipline and any change without discipline is only outward show, which amounts to cheating one’s own self.
The fast changing technology, scientific innovations, space exploration, thirst for consumerism and the world as a global village are all pushing people to find solace in traditional values of religion for peace of mind to sustain the human system.
Hence, it is appropriate to fall back on high moral values built on sound educational principles, high religious values and strict discipline and conduct. This is also the sure way of empowering the youth to become ideal citizens of tomorrow’s world.
V Sivasupramaniam is a former employee of Education Service in his native Sri Lanka. He has also worked in Nigeria and Seychelles. He is a freelance writer resident in Auckland.