Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heavenly
This is how William Wordsworth poignantly pays his deepest tribute to the French Revolution. If some liberty is allowed to express the feeling that has moved hearts throughout ages, it can be given a shape like this: A blessing it was in the dawn of a New Year to be alive -no matter how advanced in age one was. The French Revolution eulogises youth power but when a year draws to its closing, the aged who feel that their days are numbered accept a New Year's Day in suppliant gratitude.
Youthful revelry and vivacity are natural because the young generation could not care less for caution but the elderly are thankful for each day they are allotted to energetically breathe in the salubrious air of the land of their birth. Life, after all, is not without affliction for the old. For not many elderly people age is not just a number; it really weighs on them. The important thing is not to become a burden on others and stay productive. Physical infirmity may restrict a person's agility but in most cases it is compensated by wisdom.
The fact that today's young generation is more techno-savvy does not necessarily relegate the senior citizens to a redundancy trough. Today industrially developed nations are grappling with an unbalanced demographic chart. The elderly are the majority because adult people defer their marriage and birth of babies to a point where the size of population continues to shrink. Longevity of citizens is consistently on the rise and even then the number of death is hardly replaced by the new births.
In countries like Bangladesh, such a demographic pattern is yet to take effect but at least some of the characteristics have already started showing. Already joint families have splintered in to smallest units where even aged parents are left behind and working husband and wife live either in cities and towns or abroad. If old parents have already snapped their village roots and boast a residence in cities or towns, they have to make do with a helping hand and in case such is unavailable, they have to seek shelter in an old home.
Their mental agony is unfathomable. Lofty careers have compelled their scions to live away and apart and no matter how willing they are they cannot take proper care of their parents. The parents too undergo the pangs of separation for the sake of well-being of their sons and daughters. In some cases, such separation is instigated deliberately mostly by the daughter-in-law where a son plays the role of the mute and the blind.
Society thus gets deprived of a happy family bond. Children born to a young couple never know the especially sweet attachment with and reliance on their grandpas and grandmas they could count on. Families of such small units have been facing multidimensional problems. First of all, societal relations become the first casualty. In some cases, the single-unit family breaks down. There is no wise and cool head to arbitrate in the dispute and disparagement of each other. Children are the worst sufferers.
In pursuance of materialistic affluence, the young generation is now losing its generosity of hearts. This trend of exclusivity of human relations has its opulent reflection on the nation's development. It is far from inclusive and integrated and this explains why and how poverty of heart is turning society into a mindless human organisation. No wonder, unhealthy competition for material possession has given rise to aberrations and crimes. Honesty and fair play now project a low profile because the environment is ripe for extenuation of foul practices and criminal activities.
Breakdown of families have snapped the strong ties that once held society together on the basis of mutual fellow feeling, love, respect and yearning for peace. No doubt, people are accustomed to some imported customs of courtesy but that is mostly superficial, not guided by the natural warmth of heart. Dedication and sacrifice are rare commodities now mostly because the values taught at the family levels are now distorted. Education of an artificial variety, where acquiring knowledge is considered secondary, has made the matter worse. Charity no longer begins at home.
Society is losing its normative rules and regulations fast, allowing alien cultures to take over. Modern education does not mean it must repudiate the traditional value system of a society. Values that help a human being to be considerate, kind and full of empathy can be rejected at the peril of allowing cruelty and mutual hostility to rule the roost. Already the stage is set for such acts of violence. The country has witnessed a number of incidents where children were treated mindlessly and they succumbed to such cruelties.
Clearly, there is a need for tempering education with higher cultural pursuits. This is not happening because the new generation finds itself suddenly isolated from its cultural mooring, thanks to the system of single-modal education and invasion of handy modern gadgets offering them unlimited access to information and materials from which few can decide the most beneficial for mental growth. The year 2019 is expected to overwhelm the nation with arrival of more such gadgets. Surely, a member of the new generation will experience the bliss to be alive in the new millennium. But will it also elevate him or her as a human being? Elderly citizens must now decide on their policy guidelines how to weather the storm and put the nation's journey on the right track.
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