*When you leave this world, what kind of child would you have left behind when your story is eventually told?*
William Wordsworth’s epigram, “the child is the father of man” encapsulates a unique but unwritten reality that most parents face today.
As children, blessed enough to have had the consort of parents, most of us see in them our very own lives looking up – to emulate and perhaps relive their lives, with the obvious many refinements as we go along.
Any parent will tell you today that all they want for their children is that they must be happy and successful – the ideal recipe for an ideal world.
But this is not an ideal world – not by a long shot.
The world has moved on in leaps and bounds since the last century.
Where once relationships were initiated by physical meetings or arrangements between a couple, today it can be done in virtual reality by the touch of a keypad.
Where once education was only conducted face-to-face, today it can be done by the touch of a keypad.
Where once physical cash was required to transact, today it can be done by plastic and the touch of a keypad.
The point of my allusion is that the world that we exist in, has changed both fundamental perceptions and the lived reality.
How many of us can safely say that we have inherited the character we had when we were children?
Not many I would guess – that is, if we can even remember that far back or even understood as children what the word character meant.
Circumstances, environment, peer and family influences amongst others constantly shape and re-shape what we become.
But in the imperfect world of adulthood and for those who are parents – or even grandparents – the notion that when the baton is passed, it must lead to winning the race that we once started – that success is determined by the Rolex watch or the Shining Mercedes or the fancy mansion in a glittering upmarket suburb.
Yet, the intrinsic values of simplicity and humility that were once instilled in us seem to desert us in both ambition and the zest for glory.
The race and the racer have become embroiled in a very dangerous game – at times betraying both the essence and purpose of our lives.
But of course, it is neither a crime nor wrong to want the best for one’s own – that would be natural and normal.
The real question then begs is simply this: how much of ourselves and our innate character do we forsake in giving to the future that which we have inherited from the past?
With all that is happening in the world today – from wars to a global pandemic to poverty, what we yield to those we leave behind will charter a world that we once believed we owned and if its a legacy of worth that we wish to bequeath, then the brass rings of life diminishes in worth against the value of good character.
Fame, fortune and glory are temporary – as many have painfully learnt – but self-worth and character, despite human frailty and fault, goes the entire distance no matter how rough the terrain may be.
Perhaps, when our stories are eventually told in the past tense, all we would have desired would have been a lifetime of goodness that once a child carried in his heart so that the next child – and the next – would know that life can be equally great with just as little – and indeed be worth more.
That gold nugget that we relentlessly pursue to show the world that we are better than the next, becomes meaningless in the end when we are no more – but the value of the heart and soul that shape one’s character will live on and on.
There is no substitute for such value – but what you leave behind in character will indeed be for all posterity.
As William Shakespeare once observed, “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them” – what kind of child would you have left behind when your story is eventually told?
By Global Indian Correspondent – Narendh Ganesh : Part of the Global Indians
Interested in submitting your story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org