Poppin's mom and I have been having an exchange of comments over a post of hers, and I eventually decided to bring it to Sunny Days because I was making up a post as I went on commenting!
Her main question was whether we have pride in our country. How do we show it? How do we plan to take it further? What kind of a nation are we actively creating for our children? I found all of this very interesting. From my CBSE school days I have been forced to parrot my nationalism in the form of little lists of How To Behave When My National Anthem Is Sung and so on. If you've had any experience of CBSE schooling you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Before I continue I would like to mention that I am by choice apolitical as far as is possible for me to be. Yes, I have voted, and I consider it my duty. But I do not discuss politics or politicians because far too often such topics go into waters I am not willing to tread. Been there, done that, been badly misunderstood and am determined to keep mum.
Barring politics, am I proud of my country? Damn right I am. What's not to be? We have our troubles, yes, but so does every other nation. I know there are horrible things happening around me, I read the newspaper every morning. And in the course of my daily events I find that I, an Indian girl and an adult, am a well-educated (we will keep my father's opinion of my education out of this), independent working woman, wife and mother. Obviously my society must have allowed this to happen or I wouldn't be here right now posting away. I can choose my career, my clothes and the places where I want to go. Certain choices will be more difficult than others, obviously, but if everything were perfect I would have nothing to fight for. (And even less to blog about.)
I think a lot about the world around me these days, because now that The Bhablet is growing up on me, I keep thinking of the world he will live in. It helps me decide what I want to teach him. Respect and consideration for women, yes. Not because they are women but because they are human beings just like him. Respect and patience with his elders. Not only because of tradition but because I am one and I know an elder like me will require a lot of patience. I would like him to stand up for those being bullied -- but the mother in me cringes at the thought of what he might have to face, should he be so brave.
I was trying to explain to Poppin's mom therefore, that since the larger world is not directly in my control, I try to influence the little world that is open to me. I give tired looking/elderly people my seat in buses. I offer to hold their bags. I apologise for bumping people on the footpath. I try to remember to thank the cashiers for their service. I try not to curse as much as I want to. I try to do as much for my parents as my brother could ever do. I try to keep families together, patch up fights and bring people together -- societies are not harmonious with estranged individuals in it.
I realise I sound quite naive here but can you see where I am going with this? I am trying, whenever I can and however I can, to make the land an easier place for my son to live in. A freer country.
I cannot stop people demanding dowries but I can ridicule and shun those who do. And I can certainly ensure that it never happens to me or mine.
I can stand up for the girl getting harassed beside me in the shop and offer the tired-looking gentleman in the metro the free seat next to me in the ladies' section.
I cannot stop female infanticide, but I can try to make people find their girl children less of a burden, and I can try my hand at giving these girls the self-respect due to them.
I can be more thoughtful of the people around me. If I can make their day easier they will be less stressed-out and that will show in their behaviour all day.
I can try my best to help out any visitor to my city/country who seems to be in trouble, and not worry about what they will think of me for 'interfering'.
I can pick up my own litter. I can and do also pick up the litter I see around me, from time to time, if I have some place to put it.
I can recycle my plastic bags and newspapers and use water sparingly and switch off the electrical appliances I am not using and force myself to use cloth nappies.
I can be a careful and alert pedestrian.
Since I'm more of a sinner than a saint I frequently slip up. But these are my goals, some of them at least. And by following this personal code of morals and behaviour, I try to show my pride in my country as well as change what I think could be better.
I plan to instill a similar code into my children, because it is important to me that they are always aware of their duty to their country. They need not contest for political office, but I should like them to take the trouble to vote during elections (and understand why their votes are important). I would count my efforts the most successful however if my children took my ideals and their own experiences and fashioned their own set of morals. I do not think I can do my country a greater service than to bring up independent, concerned and pro-active citizens to populate it.
And that is why I think I should be paid by my government for being a stay-at-home mother.
What do YOU think?
Yes, I think U2 is a great band. In case you were wondering.