By Juggun Kazim
February 2, 2014
One of the things that the West has always appreciated and even envied about our part of the world is the respect with which we treat our elders. Yet, as the world becomes one big melting pot, it looks like we are losing a sense of what made us unique and beautiful.
The idea for this column stems from an unfortunate incident that I recently witnessed. The 25-year-old nephew of a friend of mine was exceedingly rude to his uncle’s wife in front of their whole family. His stance was that the age difference between the two was too little for him to treat her with any deference.
I understand and believe that respect is earned, but I also know that in South Asian cultures, relationships take precedence over age. When I grew up, everyone’s parents (including mine) were adamant about certain basic things. We had to say salaam to our elders and Khuda hafiz. If a mistake was made, an immediate apology was expected. If an elder did anything nice or gave a gift, a thank you note or a verbal acknowledgement was mandatory. If someone older than us walked into the room, we had to offer our seat.
I was discussing this issue with a friend and he related his own story to me. His daughter was having an argument with her mother. As soon as he heard his daughter raise her voice, he asked her to come to his room. He asked her whether she had raised her voice at her mother. His daughter tried to give him an explanation but he refused to listen. Once she admitted to raising her voice, he told her that if this was the education she was getting, then there was no need to attend school. She wasn’t allowed to go to school for three days until she begged to be forgiven. She was in ninth grade at the time. To date, she hasn’t raised her voice in front of her mother. She is now almost 24 years old.
Tough love is one of the hardest things to do because it means becoming the ‘bad guy’. But then, what else does one do? As a teenager, I hated my parent’s insistence on respecting my elders. Today, I am grateful to them for teaching me how to conduct myself.
We certainly can’t stop globalisation or stop our children from watching television. But does modern society really mean a valueless society?
I think part of the answer can be found in the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”. As a child, I was brought up not only by my parents, but my grandparents, my parents’ siblings and even the servants in our house.
The children of today’s elite do not grow up surrounded in the same way. Instead, they live atomised lives, in which many of their most important relationships are not conducted face to face but via phones, televisions and computers. Quite often, they navigate these worlds without a guide by their side. And the end result is that some of them get lost.
Juggan Kazim is an actor, an anchor and a model. She is currently the host of ‘Morning with Juggun’ on PTV Home