War of Generations: Hello Freedom Goodbye Values
Older generation is always critical of the younger generation, reminiscing about the good old times when things were just right – we did it to our parents and our children are doing it to us. Younger generation gets frustrated with oldies for hanging on to familiar and not giving ‘new’ a fair chance. Is the world a better place and the oldies have a reason to complain because the young are messing things up?
This 15th anniversary issue of Brides & You explores conflicting views on some of the delicate issues of life, including moral and ethical values, customary and traditional practices that have changed dramatically over the last few decades. Is it a matter of a normal generation gap or something deeper? We are taught all along that the only constant in life is change but can morals and ethics also fall victim to this never ending change? Is there nothing that is sacred enough to be above it all?
An animated group of nine people belonging to different walks of life and of various age groups from 20s to 50s engaged in a heated discussion over subjects like free sex, dress code, respect for elders, mutilation of language, disrespect for the institution of marriage and the increasing trend of live-in partners etc.
The yelling and the arguing that continued for three hours in which everyone tried to convince everyone else that their point of view had more merit, is being censored due to the magazine policy of not compromising on its standards of decency but the gist of the arguments made are recorded for our readers’ pleasure.
B&U: Is mutilation of language in the name of freedom a need of modern times or sheer incompetence as mastering any language requires hard work?
Taufiq: We do not have time to write or sit and read through a book. Time management has come into play and we have fast-forwarded everything. As children, we were encouraged to go to libraries but kids nowadays have everything on their laptops. Parameters were set up for us but there is more freedom now. Similarly, in our language’s case, there is more freedom.
Hifsa: We follow western ways. Our kids have accents when they speak English and some of them have not even visited or lived in foreign countries. They are picking up whatever they see on television and getting influenced by it. Urdu speaking is not considered ‘cool’ in school.
Azmeh: This has been going on for 30 odd years. Our language has been going down the drain for decades now, so the younger generation cannot be blamed for its corruption.
Nauman: I remember playing scrabble and my father telling me to open the dictionary when I did not know a word. Nowadays, kids do not even own a dictionary. Reading books is not really ‘in’ nowadays as it once was.
Conclusion: There is an agreement that the language of Ghalib, Faiz, Milton, Marlowe and Baba Bhullay Shah is being corrupted. The views sound like lame excuses – a thing of beauty is a joy forever – and that beauty is being compromised because everyone is doing it and no one is bothered to make an effort to retain what sounded good and made a lot of sense. No wonder the younger generation is misunderstood all the time. They are deprived of the equipment that is required to send a message across; to communicate like civilized human beings. The difference between an educated person and the one deprived of education was the language but listening to our politicians these days one cannot really tell who is the privileged among them. Google may have an answer to everything but it cannot teach you to be sophisticated and I for one surely miss that in our present day society.
B&U: Dressing up for the occasion is a thing of the past but why?
Nauman: I find the new generation to be lazy. Whenever I talk to my younger cousins, nephews and nieces, the word that comes to my mind is lazy because they are not bothered. They wear whatever is available and go out. I was never allowed to wear shorts for formal occasions.
Hifsa: When we were being raised, there was a decorum followed for everything. What you can wear and what you cannot wear and we abided. It was very strict and a lot of rules and regulations were in place. Nowadays, children are not bothered.
Taufiq: This generation somehow feels that if they do not dress up, it will not be the end of the world and they find it frivolous. I feel that we need to retain our cultural identity but let go of things which were detrimental to progress.
Moghees: I have not shaved in weeks and my father hates it. However, it is easier for me to get away with it compared to the older generation. What’s more- nobody is bothered at my workplace.
Azmeh: None of this really matters because people pay more heed to creativity. Take the example of the top CEOs around the world- they have zero dress sense. They have one black or white T-shirt and that is their entire wardrobe. If it is not hindering your career or your family, then there should not be an issue.
Dr Zoofishan Imran: It was just unthinkable at our time to go out in casual clothes from even our bedrooms.
Conclusion: The boom in the fashion industry speaks of another story. Shabby looks are not easy on the eyes. Are we saying that the older generation was not creative? We still take inspiration from time old pieces of art in every field. Dressing well makes one feel good also. All the psychologists prescribe it. Maybe one of the reasons for the unexplained stress is that we do not give ourselves the tender love and care we are supposed to. I for one will not date a guy who is not dressed properly and has not even shaved. Do not be lazy kids. We like to see you explore the best of your potential.
B&U: Spouse and date – what are the five qualities that you look for in each one of them?
Boyfriend: Bad boy!
Husband: Hygienic and kind hearted.
There is a generation gap here already. At first it was only men who would say that certain women can be taken as wives and some were just for fun. Nowadays, girls are also of the same opinion. You cannot take everyone home.
Girl friend: Smart. Beautiful and sexy; having a good sense of homour.
Wife: All the above with a determination to make it last through hard work and compromises.
Husband: Kind, generous, soft hearted and polite, someone with a potential to be a good father.
Boyfriend: Anyone who gets discarded for not having the above qualities.
Men were of the opinion that girls have to be hot both as girl friends and wives. Girl friends can be crazy, fun, spendthrifts and available. Wives have to be warm, genuine and home makers.
Women agreed that boyfriends can be fun, bold, crazy, jealous even unhygienic at times but husbands have to be generous, hygienic, confident and with the ability to make their woman laugh.
Conclusion: Girls how can you stand an unhygienic boyfriend is beyond me and boys not all girls can be hot, lower your standards, please. The news is that no one is looking for the naik parveen anymore, so girls do not listen to your mothers because that notion is a thing of the past. Marriage is a cut throat business – I guess it always was but in present time parents are of little help. You are on your own so make the best of it. Someone with the potential to be a good father is a good tip but also find out if he has the potential to be a good respecting husband.
B&U: Sex before marriage was unthinkable, not that it was not happening but was definitely looked down upon: the trend is becoming very common and somewhat acceptable and even something to flaunt! Is it right?
Azmeh: Morality is a personal issue and modern generation is more willing to accept that. We are less judgmental.
Taufiq: The whole world is changing because of the interaction, exposure and communication. Marriage between different cultures is taking place, so how can we just hold on to our particular set of values?
Juggun: For every generation, values and morals are different. It is a bit frightening that kids under a certain age are engaging in activities that we would not even think of doing at our time. However, we cannot become anyone’s moral police. If the society is devolving, it is not only our children’s fault but ours too. Moral values of sleeping with people generally have changed. Sex is not considered such a big deal anymore. Boundaries have blurred and it is time to take our children to gynecologists earlier on and give them lessons on practicing safe sex. Dr Zoofishan: With every passing year, I see my students generally being disrespectful, as cultural norms have changed. They are so into themselves that when a teacher enters the classroom, some of them do not even look up and say Salaam.
Mohammad Malick: Frankly, till the time our parents used to beat us boys up, we were doing just fine. Nowadays, they all are virtual-world kids. They have digital mannerism. They are more at comfort with their isolation and individuality. In our times we used to love playing outdoor games but kids nowadays do not want to leave their rooms and their video games..
Faisal: Manners are learnt through relationships and family interactions. Children need to be taught and parents need to spend time with their kids to teach them these morals, values and ethics.
Dr Zarqa: The ‘moral’ element in our society has diminished and there are a lot of reasons for it. One being parents’ fault, as parents have given up the right to being parents because most of the time they feel under confident about their own ability to understand the latest gadgets and things going on in their children’s lives. They have entered into some kind of a complex.
Conclusion: Not being judgmental is a good thing and the younger generation is definitely less judgmental but we have to maintain our cultural values. Our family system, that supports the old and the young and gives us a communal existence which the West so envies, should be saved. There are certain things that are morally not acceptable and if we have a liberal stance on them we will ruin the fabric of our society and encourage the ladder-climbing, gold-digging vamps to take over.
B&U: Present times or old times- which times would you prefer?
Hifsa: Present times but bring in some values from the past.
Dr Zoofishan: Old times.
Nauman: Old times.
Azmeh: Present times.
Faisal: Present times but with old values.
Taufiq: Old times.
Moghees: Present times but with old values.
Dr Zarqa: Old times.
Juggun: Present times with old values.
Malick: Materially we are better off now but not otherwise. However, there is rampant materialism and it is scary now.
Conclusion: Freedom of thought and speech is a right and the young are more accretive and aggressive in claiming it and values needs to be reevaluated and defined all the time. There are certain values, which must be retained if we have to maintain our status as civilized people. It appears we all crave for old values even when we enjoy the perks of modernization. And we can have them both Let us keep what is good in our value system and discard which was just there to hinder our progress. If we are truly free, we can draft our own script and live a happy and graceful life.