Theres always an argument when we compare culture of
I believe Indians respect age while in the west, individuality is respected. Indian kids are taught to bow and touch the feet of elders. How many children actually know the reason behind that action? Very few (I didnt)! Still, kids grow up touching elders feet and then they pass on the tradition to their kids, minus the reasoning*. Dont get me wrong here - I dont have anything against age-old customs and am sure there would be valid reason behind the action. What Im against though is respect with too many "where" clauses.
Lets take some examples:
Indian society tends to set the norm for "when" people should do "what". Out here, if youre 30 and still single, your relatives would be very worried and would express their concern at every possible opportunity they get. If you married for a few years without kids, people would be curious about "whats going on". And you get asked over and over again till you come up with something that satisfies their expectations … for the time being that is. I once attended a session on cross-cultural sensitivity and was delighted to know that in
We tend to judge people by their profession and tend to look up to people or look down upon them based on what they do. So, a driver, a steward, a cleaner would be treated like an untouchable, someone inferior whereas an executive as an equal or superior. In the west, people arent judged by what they do, no work is considered low. Its nice to see people interact freely with people they meet in their daily lives with no hang-ups about what they do. People are not afraid to take a break from work or to try a different profession after a few years.
In the west, basic courtesy is shown to even people you dont know. People wait for pedestrians to cross streets, people give way to others in lifts, corridors, even on busy roads. If someone snicked against your arm by mistake, most people would be courteous and apologize. People are disciplined and respect queues, rules, protocol. Often, youre delighted when strangers smile and say Hi as they walk by. In
We feel pride in saying we are religious but if you go to any popular temple, youll see people pushing other people aside to pay their respects to The Almighty, to reach Him, to touch Him. What about the divinity that lives in each one of us: in you, in me and in the person you pushed aside to speed up your "darshan"?
Then, thinking of all this, arent people in the West more respectful than we are?
Is touching elders feet any good if we dont have an iota of respect for people we work with, live with, travel with?
Arent we in shackles of other peoples expectations?
Is respect for an elder any good if we cage them with our expectations and refuse to treat them as individuals?
I guess each one has to figure that out on their own!