Have you given your Children the Freedom of Free Thought?
Gomathi’s small-town upbringing had made her view with disgust the whole concept of western clothing. Until recently, she even detested the women who preferred them. Her notions change in a few months of her migration to a big city. However, her mother’s lewd remarks ring loud and clear every time she sees a girl in shorts or revealing outfits.
Ambika’s typical day starts with an early morning prayer, prior to which she dusts the patio in her house and decorates it with colourful rangoli. She always snarls at the neighbours who sleep late. In her school of thought, ignoring the rituals is equated to atrocity and criminality.
Gomathi’s and Ambika’s acclaimed decorum makes them powerless in atypical situations. Their reputation will be ripped if they stand-up for anything out of the ordinary; even if their minds dictate otherwise. They will, therefore, ignore a transgender in need; flee from a suspected queer, will suppress their urge to assert even when circumstances demand. They are prisoners of dictatorial belief enforced on them in their homes.
There are in our midst men and women who find it difficult to break the shackles of the dogma that was central to their upbringing. The perceptions are woven deep and strong into the core of their thoughts, and non-adherence is often considered sacrilege.
What is the Liberty of Free Thought?
Freedom of thought is only a derivative concept, and it relies heavily on three other aspects:
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of free expression
- Freedom of religion
This is not about the constitutional rights you are accorded in a democracy. In modern societies across the world, the freedom of thought is a primary constituent of living. It is integral to the development and progression of a community.
The liberty of thought is giving an individual the power to hold a view or a fact that does not resonate with the popular ideals or belief. Have you received that power as a child? Most importantly, did you entrust your child with the same?
Did you let your grown-up child choose his/her dress this morning? Do your order for them in a restaurant? Do you let them voice their opinions? Do you listen to them speak on a topic that does not appeal to you or do you cut short even before they begin? Do you constantly dictate what is ‘good’ for them and what is ‘bad’?
These are just mild forms of Orwellian conditioning, where a child is controlled by a parent’s constant surveillance. The adjective ‘Orwellian’ also connotes subjecting to misinformation and denial of truth in a political sense.
Channelising your child’s thoughts to reflect that of yours is camouflaging Orwellian disillusionment as parenting. Similar genetic makeup does not necessarily mean similar ideation and thinking.
What does your child need?
The new-age parenting adage, ‘You are only a guide’ is such an advanced thought. The more you follow the principles of dictatorship at home, the more you kill the child’s chances of holding independent thoughts.
Let your children search for their own vision of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Give them room to explore the depths of individual reasoning. Let them make the wrong decisions. They will gradually learn to weigh the outcomes.
Give your children the control over every aspect of their lives. Guide their decisions without being too overbearing. Grant them the benefit of intellectual liberty and watch them blossom into enlightened beings.
Promoting intellectual liberty will lead to the rise of an all-inclusive society, which is a dire need for the progression of our nation.