Morality Play


From the above picture with the definition, it is clear that more than anything else morals form the basic tenets, rules around which we all live our lives. Our moral systems determine all our actions, decisions and motivations in our daily lives and pretty much define our personalities, so to speak.

Yes, while popular perception is that ‘only children’ like me are ‘spoilt brats’ who have it easy for them in life, and their parents pamper them a bit and bend to their every whim and fancy, the truth remains that this purely depends on the kind of parents and the parenting techniques they follow. As for me, my parents were so firmly entrenched in the ‘middle class’ of the 80s and 90s India that they had no choice but to instil a strong ‘middle class mindset’ in me.

As a consequence, even today when I can probably afford an ‘upwardly mobile middle class’ lifestyle I am still firmly stuck in a place in my mind where I strongly believe that I am ‘middle class’ only without the prefix ‘upwardly mobile’ to it. And most of the credit for this strongly grounded mindset that I have goes to my parents who ensured that I didn’t have it easy and didn’t always have my way as a kid and a teenager. They strongly believed in correlation of efforts and rewards for anything that I got in life. If I studied well, I was rewarded with a new novel, if I performed well in a school quiz, I got a new Bournvita Book of Knowledge or a Malayala Manorama Yearbook, if I won a cricket match against the neighboring colony, I was treated to an ice cream. Nothing came my way without me having to have done something to deserve it.

That was as far as material possessions go. In terms of religious and philosophical world-view, I am very thankful that my parents didn’t force their moral systems on me. As long as I didn’t openly rebel against their rituals, rites, ceremonies, they were fine with it, even if I didn’t participate with as much devotion and fervor as they would have liked me to. In fact, apart from the occasional cribs that all parents have from their children on this topic, my parents didn’t even attempt to change my world views on this particular subject at all.

All of my belief systems and philosophical points of view were things that I developed on my own based on my experiences and those of people around me. While it took me a while to realize that I was ‘agnostic’ as far as God and religion was concerned, the fact remains that this is a carefully cultivated point of view of my own and I have nobody to credit or blame for the same. And this truly is so liberating, knowing that nobody else is responsible for what I believe in and what I don’t. All the bouquets and brickbats in this department belong to me and me alone.

On more than one occasion in life, I have come across friends, family members and colleagues whose value systems, morals, philosophies are at constant loggerheads with my own. And in all such occasions I have let one statement guide me – to each his own and this has served me in good stead. Even if the other person is initially angered at my nonchalant attitude towards his/her beliefs, he/she soon realizes that even though I might disagree I am anything but disrespectful towards them or their beliefs. And they soon agree to disagree with me and move on with the rest of their interactions with me.


This post has been written for Project 365 : A post a day where the idea is to write a post based on the prompts provided.

18 thoughts on “Morality Play

  1. I loved this post Jairam….it just speaks so much about how your parents inculcated the right values in you! Its funny how we seem to judge single children…or even judge parents who have a single child…like they dont even want to give a sibling to their child or something like that..its so weird…firstly its a personal choice..and secondly I know of a lot of single child(ren) who are wonderful folks and extremely balanced in life!!!

    and oh please thank you parents for making you as is and giving you that spark of interest in mythology..thanks to that, I do get to learn so much…

    and to each his/her own…so so true!

    • @R’s Mom, if I am anything today that is purely because of the wonderful values and lessons in being grounded that my parents taught me. And for sure, the interest in reading that my parents imbibed in me at a young age is holding me in good stead today 😀

  2. Absolutely agree… as far as morals with respect t materialistic needs are concerned, they are driven by our upbringing… about our morals regarding spirituality, religion or for that matter society and social behaviour go… while the upbringing given forms the base, the way we interpret our education defines our outlook as well. I will not say I am an atheist but I do not necessarily believe in ‘by the book’ faith or tradition based faith per se.. similarly social behaviours that I see around me…some I might not agree with but I never let that get in my way with people because at the end of the day it is ‘to each his own” unfortunately most people believe that their morals are what everyone should go by..

    • @Seeta, if only a majority of the world lived by the credo ‘to each his own’ then the world would be bereft of conflicts, at least the religious ones, right!!! 🙂

  3. Ah your parents did a fine job, no doubt about it 🙂
    Well the fact remains that as parents we cannot force anything on our children. After all they are individuals and they make their own choices. We can just lead by example, whether they follow it or not, it is upto them. But then usually examples do bear fruit 🙂

  4. We are from a generation of children who were taught to value the dignity of hard work and were rewarded for our good deeds and were guided when we made mistakes. As this generation of children grow up the families; distant relatives, friends/colleagues – the children feel they are entitled to all the privileges that an advertising monster constantly pumps out! Branded bags, shoes, clothes, accessories! Where are we headed? I dread the day in the future when my child will come up to me and say – no cow’s milk I want Nestle Special Power Mix or something of that sort!!! A nice post 🙂

    • @Mahesh, so true, we grew up in a generation where everyday life was a relative struggle compared to the IT generation that most of us now belong to. During my childhood I pretty much had to ‘earn’ everything by proving that I deserved it rather than it being handed over to me, which probably is not the case with today’s children.

  5. Jairam, I just loved this post. Often as parents, you do your best and hope that the rest will take care of itself. I am also grateful to my parents for the values they inculcated in me and also for letting me make my own choices. My parents were completely non religious but they were very open minded. I also realize that we sort of mirror our own parents in our parenting methods. I am conscious of that and modify things that I may not have approved of. But yes, it is very interesting to see that nurture works more than nature on who we eventually turn out to be.

    • @Rachna, in my personal experience nurture has probably worked more than nature in shaping out who I am today, but having said that, there have been lots of external influences such as friends, professors, teachers, my spouse, my child who have also had a huge and extremely strong influence on the way I think, act, react and my belief systems as well.

      • I believe we do change along the way with experiences and people who influence us. Yet our core is made of our childhood experiences and the relationships and experiences we saw early on. When under stress, you will see the core coming to the fore. This core is sometimes pretty hard to completely change.

  6. I strongly believe in the correlation of hardwork/effort and rewards. Even though my parents could afford most of the luxuries then, my mom made us (me and my bro) realize not only the price but the value of the want and luxury. So today both price and value are deeply entrenched in my psyche. ‘To each his own’ ………..I fully agree. A beautiful post Jairam. It’s a pleasure reading on a sensitive topic.

  7. Going by this post it is very clear that your parents surely did a very fine job, Jairam 🙂 Really if we can all live by this “to each his own” maxim, things can go so smoothly for our collective life in the society. Of course it doesn’t mean absolute licence to do whatever one likes! Thanks for this great post on an important topic.

    • @Beloo, thank you so much for the kind words regarding me and my parents 🙂 And as for ‘to each his own’, yes, the world would have been such a better place to live in, wouldn’t it?

  8. I so agree with you.. I remember telling Sid the other day – “I’m so wonderfully middle class” especially with my values. which aren’t narrow minded or constricting. If nothing else, my parents taught me to think before accepting anything!

    Your parents have done a wonderful job and I’m sure you and your spouse are doing a great job on your little one as well!! 🙂

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