Without an iota of doubt, nature, blesses, upon each human kind the same level of natural intelligence (NI). Nature is just, it has neither preference nor prejudice or bias, hence there is no unequitous blessings in its basic design of bestowing the similar, yet unique fundamental characteristics; all of us receive the inherent traits equally, there are no disparities, except those that Divinity Wills to create.
If upon birth all are equally blessed, then why do we witness the ever growing and glaring disparities and differences between individuals, in their basic persona. It is quite obvious that the environment made available goes to impact, upon the development of personality of each person. The differences that arise as a consequence of social and economic status of say, a family unit or if this thought is enlarged and looked with a lens covering broader horizons to include, say any city or country as a whole, get reflected in the personality of the individuals residing within that cocoon. This thought is akin to and is within the realm of the concept of ‘ as you sow, so shall you reap’.
The availability of the right opportunity is a critical aspect for any individual, society and country to grow and demonstrate, a unique strength or quality. To support this argument, can anyone conceive an unknown war correspondent, later Prime minister, Winston Churchill, without the occurrence of World War II. He would have remained in obscurity, if the situation given to him, to act boldly against the aggression of Hitler’s Germany. So, at best, Churchill was a situational leader, where his skills were tested; take that opportunity away, he would have remained a dwarf in the House of Commons, in spite of his hugely burly figure.
This is , however, not to suggest in any manner, that the existence of the one and only, exceptionally talented, of the type of Van Goh or Mozart is not a reality. There are unique individuals, but they are a sprinkle only upon the human race. It is to be noted here that “excellence" is not distributed, it is acquired through labour, with beads of sweat on the forehead, accompanied by persistent efforts and unyielding passion of consistency.
In the several conversations, I get to have, with the younger generation, I recognise with extreme pain and chagrin, that a large part of them (youthful population) have been left unattended, in-fact abandoned, by the family/society/country. There is hardly any interest shown by any quarter to harness and polish this latent potential of the youth, which if done, has the possibility to unleash nuclear energy of effort and productivity.
Before, I embark to make recommendations, for the development of personality, let me identify, those individuals and groups, who must firstly own up, that it is them upon whom devolves the primary responsibility of providing “Tarbiyat”(the Urdu word in my view has no equivalent word in English language) to the younger generation. ‘Upbringing’ in English language is not as comprehensive, wholesome and all encompassing as, tarbiyat is. However, owing to personal inadequacy of vocabulary, I shall be using 'upbringing’.
Upbringing begins in the loving lap of the mother. That’s the first university a child attends, without passing any entrance examination (nature is kind and merciful), and here, he/she receives guidance that lasts for a lifetime. The beliefs and values that are instilled in an infant/child remains a lifetime trait. So, the responsibility of upbringing rests squarely upon the parents, and more so upon the father.
Regrettably in conversations I also learn with sadness most children do not have “ friendship “ with their fathers; most are also scared of them, so they do not share their aspirations, ambitions, strengths and weaknesses, making it impossible to be provided with relevant information to seek confidence and understanding for their pursuits. My own take on this is, that a child who is scared of the father will remain for the rest of his life, a scared person, lacking self confidence. Fathers make or destroy the child’s personality. Mothers participate by both covert and overt means in providing shelter to the child, which in the long runs goes to weaken the growth of bond between the child and the father. This must not happen.
For no valid reasons, the malaise that has set in today’s society, is a stark lack of interest by parents in their offspring. This sweeping statement is deliberately made here, to bring home the point, that the number of parents who do take interest is low and only dwindling further; ask any teacher of what transpires at ‘parent-teacher meetings’.
The inattention is taking the form of absolutely absurd abdication on their part. Why?
The value system of families, societies and cultures, is also going through a complete overhaul; inclusive of a deep metamorphosis of change of possessing the basic sense of balance between what is right and what is not. Whether it is good or bad and worse, will be judged by the society, at least a few decades from now. The significant aspect is that values are being translated into dollars and cents; hence the inherent elasticity of concepts is now prone to break itself, because monetary value of values cannot be quantified. The need to accept that motivation is best when it is not rewarded through ratings, stipends, emoluments, bonuses, etc because that mars the beauty of inspiration to do better than yesterday.
The first level of responsibility for tarbiyat is with parents and family members. While parents have to necessarily assume ‘primary responsibility’; but if there are relations like grand parents, uncles and aunties, fortunately available, then they must also find themselves holding the secondary responsibility to groom, to instill, to, imbibe and to inculcate, family values and the universally accepted societal values.
Following this, of the family taking interest to build the foundations of character, it becomes imperative to entrust the child to a school. Most psychologists and psychoanalysts subscribe to the theory that the basic character, traits and characteristics are formed and firmed by the age of 5- 7 years. At this age, or even earlier, the child gets the experience of the outside world, more independently, then the child would at the play school.
Schools , colleges and universities must thence take over the responsibility, at least that’s how it used to be… I recall my lecturers, professors, etc spending a lot of time (not paid for, not mentioned on their official JD’s ) in mentoring us. They took this activity as a sacred national duty. There was no question of any monetary trade off. Again, a massive decline has set in this area too; following the senseless abdication by parents, generally speaking, the “Asataza” (teachers) have also given up the students; consequently, we see the waywardness of a majority of the youth, about whom our political forces cry hoarse as a huge economic potential … regrettably a potential that is untrained, undeveloped and rudderless. The aarents and the academia must recollect their collective sense of dedication and revert to assuming responsibility for both, education and tarbiyat, of the young and the beautiful asset of this blessed land.
Personality development is hugely dependent upon what type and kind of books, we read. Even before the type and nature of books, the urge to read must shine through efforts to seek knowledge. Books are the best companions and best guides. The reading habit must be emphasised for personal growth. Gathering knowledge from social media shouldn’t be the first of the effort to seek knowledge; it must begin with finding the right book, for whatever interests one may have.
A man is known by the company he keeps is a proverb accepted through centuries for good reasons. ‘Lives of great men, all reminds us, we can make, our lives sublime’; reading biographies and autobiographies helps in personality development, and in equal measure spending time in the company of the knowledgeable and upright individuals helps formulate one’s own characteristics of character.
Personality becomes charismatic only if it is steeped in goodness of thought and action. There is no other alternative .
– The writer is a senior banker & freelance columnist.