Friday, December 28, 2007

You Cant Always Get What You Want

The papers have been reporting a furore over the outcome of yet another reality show on television. The losing finalists have alleged that the result was unfair and have filed a police complaint against the TV channel.(
The fondness for 'reality shows' is symptomatic of a world in which it is believed that everyone is entitled to win; that anyone can become a star. That isn’t a very realistic belief, but it is fostered from an early age.
Parents allow their children to win every game that they play against them. At children’s parties they ensure that every child wins a prize for something or the other. No one is left out when the goodies are handed out. Losers don’t have a place in today's world. Winning is so important that it is facilitated in the make believe world, every time.
But it doesn’t stop there.
There are schools where every child wins the 'Best Student' award -- by rotation. Children who take exams and don’t get the marks they expected accost their teachers and demand a review of their work. Parents often join them in heckling the teachers and the school authorities. In one extreme case, the parents of children who'd failed an examination gathered outside the school and refused to let the gates open until the results were 'reviewed'. The school gave in and promoted half of the failed students. ( would those young people have learnt from this experience? That they are good enough to decide what they deserve and then get it by any means?
No one is willing to be judged by their capabilities or their limitations, but everyone wants to be accepted at their own valuation. How is it possible?
'Judge not, lest ye be judged' has given way to, 'Judge not me, for I am judge enough'.

Surely the adults who grow out of this kind of childhood will have expectations of winning everywhere. We are a civilization that is waiting for prizes, freebies and goodies at every corner; because we think we are entitled to them. We are unable to handle disappointments, or worse, defeat. Take a look at the raging mobs that take to the streets after lost elections or lost cricket matches. Take a look at the numbers of disappointed students committing suicide after exam results are announced. Take a look at the rising numbers of cases of depression.

The older religions preached acceptance. At its worst, their outlook was fatalistic, and human beings were perceived as helpless victims in the hands of the gods -- who were very often personifications of the elements. Life on earth at the time when these beliefs were taking shape, and indeed even much later, was a daily struggle for survival : for food, for shelter, and for medicine. Human endeavour often met with defeat. Tragedy strengthened the human spirit and the resolve to fight and win.

In an age when every material thing appears to be so readily available and within reach, it becomes difficult to accept that there is still much that can’t be bought or had for the asking.
Expectations are big, and so are disappointments. The new lifestyle gurus preach the old mantra of acceptance, equanimity and austerity. Will we ever learn?


Karthik Narayan said...

hehhe good one, in line with the latest - do see Asianet Idea Star Singer.. like i always say, the best actors are the reality show (judges) and cricketers - cos they both know the result, yet fool us with their gimmicks...

Thanks for the lovely read

heckler said...

accpet that we will never learn


"When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?" goes the old song.
Only today I was talking to an old gentleman of Mylapore who said that though they had a car at home, the parents did not allow them the use of it. "It was a privilege not meant for children, felt my parents," he said. (And I was instantly reminded of Babuji, who relaxed the rule only for Raja, and that too, because the driver Arokkiasamy did not like the idea of 'namma Raja' walking to school.)
What a far cry from today's children and their indulgent parents.

katty kat said...

looks like santa denied gardenia xmas gift this season, tcchh tcchh......jokes aside isko kisi akhbaar mein bhej diya jaye, for wider consumption

Anonymous said...

VS Naipaul once, as a judge of an school essay writing competition, decided that no prize was worthy of first prize. Or even second prize. He wanted to award the winning essay third prize, baffling the organizers. After much pleading and persuasion, he settled for calling it "the prize".

Kamini said...

As always, you have hit the nail on the head - and said it beautifully. I read about the work world dealing with young people who are unable to deal with criticism - by praising them and toning down the negative comments! The real world has to hit them some time, and it will hit them hard, with no parents to cushion the blow. A sad state all around.