NEED OF DIALOGUE BETWEEN WILD ROMANCE AND ORGANIC MANAGEMENT, BETWEEN LIBERATIVE CHAOS AND POWER, BETWEEN CHILDREN, TEENAGERS AND YOUTHS ON ONE SIDE AND MIDDLEAGERS AND OLD CITIZENS ON THE OTHER.
Mammen George Suku
Certain people want to teach others ‘values’. As if values hang around us as eternal elements. Values are merely tools of stability evolved by man/women in his/her relating net works. And mega networks and meta networks control them.
So we have to seriously think of generating values and empowering them rather than picking up them from legal/moral orders, theologies and ideologies.
One needs stimulation of the subjective (Culture realm; this includes spirituality also) and objective environment ‘To Be’, to evolve. Without stimulation humans in a non static space (like a continuously evolving technology and economy) become distressed, depressed or even mad. Because unlike the static societies , the evolving society has no embedded mechanical ethics and meaning giving factors.
In most civilizations which achieve stability, humanhood gets killed. But this is also true of non-stable international suburbs like Keralam where life is unproductively and uncreativedly congested due to suburban modernization. Humanhood is killed, stunted, perverted. All stimulations take the shape of reductionist trajectorics. For
example, vocation reduced to career and career reduced to jobs, education reduced to a road to career and children reduced as investments of future career; relationships reduced to either fragmented utilitarianism or tools of structures ; happiness reduced to satisfaction, to being a cog of mega/meta flows, soap entertainments, sexism and alcohol; politics reduced to manipulation of contexts, knowledge reduced to information and skills. And the like.
All these have to re-created as subjective and objective activities. Malayalies-like most people around the world- have to understand that a human condition is not life itself but only a potential dynamo of life. Malayali society attempts this recreation in two ways – through religious revivalism and through the virtual world of TV,computer and the like. Religious revivalism provides tools to stabilize both cultural pre-modernity and market modernity in a non productive way. The other method wildly pushes forward and it is now impossible to predicts it outcome.
So what we need are prophets to motivate us and lead us to cross the frontiers. That is what I expect from the junior generation -- the post 1980 generation.
This generation was born into a new world radically different from that of their parents. They are the children of gulf boom affluence/internationalization, qualitatively new physical and social technologies etc.And I think they have inputs, sophistication and dynamics for a new braver world. I hope something that happened feebly in Keralam among teenagers more than three decades ago will be repeated -- but powered not only by spiritual romance alone as then but also by skill , information and management. These last three things were abhorred by the counter-culture generation.When we were young we used to say ,”never believe anybody who is above thirty and don’t trust the establishment”. Is there many among the juniors who say no now? There must be much more number of such who accept the first part of our old concern, but I don’t think they are in search for their politics and soul as we were then. But I will wait.
There is something my brother’s teenage daughter told me recently’which jolted me out of a foolish stupor (such lethargy of middle agers is the result of a personal political decline stabilized by middle age fatigue usually mistaken as ‘maturity’. Such jolts are
occasionally given me by my students, children and also by very ‘ordinary’ people). She came into my political visibility and commanded respects by saying, “allow us to commit our own mistakes. You elders are trying to protect us from your own fears generated by your own past mistakes”. (she was speaking about freedom for decision
Making). That is definitely a political statement.
I have admired how well informed even little children these days are. My own teenage students have frequently commanded my respect by proving the wisdom they have acquired by that age. But even then there is a reservation on my part to let go-- accept that they will evolve by themselves. This shows there was a definite decline in my personal politics (ie.relating process ) since the age of rebellions. In the college, as a teacher, I had outwardly taken the position that my role was not that of the philosopher but the experienced guide and facilitator. But in many realms I was burdened by the idea that unlike the children I was powered by values and stability I had evolved in a revolutionary struggle. My values/stability might not suite them but still was valid in a dialectical sense, I thought .
Many years ago my daughter, then a kindergarten child, gave me good lessons in this respect. I wanted to be an active father and used to join her in educative (grooming) play activities. I would give her activity play books and tell her how to go about doing things. She would obstinately disregard my schooling ideas and do things in her own wild ways. I would let go to avoid conflict but eventually would realize that she evolved better methods by herself without my help.
Now she is entering adolescence and I face a similar situation. There are communication gaps and situations where I want to’help’ and ‘guide’. She gets disgusted and tell me so. The relationship situation has also has a non ordinary structural reason. We do not live together due to my separation from her mother. (Keralam still doesn’t have any Process Co-ordination Activism projects, cultural ideology and structural/legal patterns to deal with non ordinary situations. Society still advocates the sterile feudal/bourgeois ideology of eulogizing mechanical structuralism) Journals tell me about cyber mafia and criminality. Dangers of the cyber world. So what do I do? Refuse her independent access to the internet? I know that cannot be. But I desire to make her aware of realities without offending her self respect . Is it because I am a frightened , de-politicised man and an ahistorical fool who wants to prevent her from encountering history?
Recently I asked her whether she has any preferences regarding here future vocation. She is only thirteen and so my aim was only to understand her. She upset me by saying, ‘journalism or event co-ordination or choreography’ I always wanted her to like pure knowledge – something like theoretical physics, astrophysics or something like that. And that is the difference between my species and these young ones- we are philosophers of romance and they are pragmatists, especially in a utilitarian sense. I asked her why these fields and she said that these fields have already evolved in to good business. I respect this generation’s creative pragmatism and skill but I have complaints that they have no intention to save the processes from the market – they want the market. So what ethics and politics are they going to generate and serve? (Not that majority in our own times had better ethics. We were a minority. But the majority of that period , though dynamic , was not creative and professional unlike these youngsters. Politically most of them were good boys and girls’ like orthodox leftists, Nehruvian liberals, meritocrats and ‘very good’ conformists)
So my challenge is how to politicize her without ‘imposing myself’ on her and boring her’ as she has complained.
The teacherhood was one of the fields where I was a success. But there also there were political problems for me. One was the teenager love-romance-sex world that naturally was around us in the college. Like every elder I have my own experience luggage of the younger days which determines my position as a responsible elder.
A challenging situation arise whom a teenager who resisted structuring of life (through very unsuccessfully and badly) assumes authority of structures. That is the intellectual and ethical confusion I felt when I was challenged to be a creative teacher. Our youthful slogan was that authority, structuring ,law ,morals , reason
etc.,of all categories were the primary enemy. But now my admonition was,’use only open spaces and activity realms to socialize. Don’t go to closed class rooms to be intimate’ (Not that they cared for my moral ‘help’) My patriarchal position is that in an market society of sexist male domination, innocent sex cannot exist. It gets hijacked to many bondaging ways--subjectively and objectively. But then wouldn’t my position kill spontaneity and humanhood? In my syllabus-curriculum reform reports I always suggested that integration of healthy socializing should officially made part of the space -time ordering in the college. But I know such a suggestion also could not be worked out and function in the absence of structural and cultural activism .
The only answer , I think , lies in the uninhibited dialogue between those who arebelow thirty and those who are above. By trusting the child and the teenager-- but binding ourselves like Ulysses to the mast of our experintial power. But it is easily said than done. How to evolve a praxis? I want to learn from children and adolescents. For thatI have to re-define myself by re-discovering my own past--but that great romance newly imbued with my present powers and skills. The new generation youngsters have more power inputs than we had when we were young. But we elders have evolved values and skills ofstability and effectiveness. And at least the ex-rebels among us still have moving frontiers. And the values of these last category are the result of the consolidation of the revolution of a former era--not the static values of fundamentalist theologies or the opportunistic/utilitarian values of science/market/progress.