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Independence Day & Our Kids

Courtsey: The Hindu
Liberty means many things to many people. That is not new. We all know that. We all strive to liberate ourselves internally and externally. Being liberated mean many things to us at many times. Liberty is like a fragrant air which cannot be explained well enough in words. It is an idea which escapes the understanding like the most subtle and profound things in life. That is not a matter of concern. Unbearable is not multiple interpretation of liberty, unbearable is to have no interpretation of liberty, to not know what liberty means. It is no wonder that philosophers have been aspiring to define liberty which toggles between the extreme definitions of Thomas Hobbes “A free man is he that… is not hindered to do he hath the will to do.” and the more moderate one of Locke “In political society, liberty consists of being under no other lawmaking power except that established by consent in the commonwealth…Freedom is constrained by laws in both the state of nature and political society.”

We need to teach our children the meaning of liberty. I was talking to my six year old few days back and was telling her about how we got independence on 15th of August 1947 as we approached our 68th Independence day, and she was quite confused about what independence was all about. She is not having the benefit of being a soldier's son which I had. I was awakened to the need of teaching liberty to my little daughter by the confused look at her face and tried to debate if one, it was necessary and two, if it was possible. Was I driven by my own dislike of the market-driven media which was pushing the idea of a generation with exemplary intellect merely on the ground of information overload flooding the today’s generation or my own idea of why liberty is a great, even if a lofty idea? Am I trying to make her swallow the sun? But then I thought and the answers are here about why kids ought to be taught about liberty.


     The Idea of Liberty
    Liberty is the respect of free will. It is the healthy respect of self and    within it is ensconced the respect for others. We are all our life struggling to walk towards  that ever elusive goal which defines our life. Our kids need to learn liberty and value it. Our  quest and love for liberty is what elevates our existence as human beings above all the other  mortals. The early they learn about liberty and start taking their little steps towards it, the  earlier they grow as human being.




   Liberty and Independence
Independence is the sub-plot, the corollary of liberty. Liberty thrives on an inherent sense of responsibility. It is important to teach kids not only the value of liberty but also the price of liberty. Liberty doesn't come for free. We need to teach kids early that they cannot have their liberty paid by the currency spent by someone else. We need to buy our own liberty and pay with our own blood. Liberty is always a choice and like any other choice, comes at a price. It is only with independence, social, financial and moral, which entitles us to enjoy freedom. Didn't Nietzsche say, to command, we must first learn to obey?



Liberty and Individuality: 
John Stuart Mill states that within the idea of liberty “Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is supreme.” The idea of liberty is tightly bound to the idea of individualism, the idea of free-will. It is something that our kids need to learn, to hold on to their own individual thoughts, never to succumb to the force of the mob. An early learning of the idea of liberty prepares the child to withstand the ridicule which faces every independent minded person and which in any case, is responsible for any progress in the society.



    Liberty, patriotism and our roots: 
    Patriotism seems to be an out of place idea in today’s cosmopolitan society, a world in which national boundaries are fast fading. We cannot negate nationalism, denying which would be tantamount to negating our own self. National pride and the sense of national self is not in contradiction with the idea of global unity. We cannot mitigate our own roots, deny our origins and melt in the global humanity. We need to learn about the sweat, blood and selfless sacrifices of those before us through which we, as a nation earned the right to govern ourselves. We need to teach our kids their roots and their origins, to help them find their own place in the world.





Let us teach our kids the story of our own independence, the value of free air in which we breathe today, and beyond the nationalistic idea, teach them the grand idea of human liberty. Their becoming a conscientious citizen and moral, independent thinking human beings depends on it. They need to appreciate the world that we live in and our responsibility towards it. As I said, Liberty means many things to many people; the worst thing would be to not have a meaning. Next time, don’t merely buy a paper flag; take time to teach your kid about liberty, of the nation, of the individual. Let us sneak in some stories about Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh, Patriots who laid down their lives for the nation, in between Cinderellas and SnowWhites of the world. The greatness is fast becoming history. All great wars have been fought, all great sorrows have been endured. We will forget what greatness is unless we repeat it to our children and as they say, those who forget the history are condemned to repeat it. Let us teach our kids about National flag, Nation Emblem, National Anthem, National Song and national history and maybe in the process, we will learn something. They will not only learn patriotism, they will also learn greater and more delicate things in life- things like sacrifice, courage and love. Let's teach our kids nationalistic value and they will not only become fine citizens, they will become fine human beings. They will appreciate sacrifices of those who still stand guarding us- the greatness of our soldiers which protects our mediocrity. Let us become worthy of their love, let us become aligned with the greatness of the nation we live in. Let us soak in this perpetual and eternal sea of humanity we call INDIA. Wishing you a very Happy Independence Day!! 


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