Intellectual decay

Published February 27, 2024

ONE of the most prominent features of the subcontinent’s culture is respect for the elderly. Age, among other factors like wealth and social status, is a key determinant of a person’s worthiness. The amount of respect you deserve is proportional to the number of years you have lived.

To top it off, the notion of respect materialises itself in the form of direct obedience, which means that the more respect you have, the more authority you will command in matters of common interests. Such a practice exists because of a perception that with age comes experience, and experience brings wisdom.

But, experience is almost always passive. The act of experience alone, therefore, does not suffice the conditions of being wise. The ‘reaction to’ and ‘interpretation of’ different stimuli of experiences can unveil the layers of wisdom before oneself.

This act of reacting to and interpreting experiences is what we refer to as know- ledge. Now this is something which demands a conscious effort and an active approach. Individuals having been through the same set of experiences will interpret them according to their own understanding and, hence, end up acquiring different levels of wisdom.

Knowledge brings wisdom. And since knowledge is not age-bound, the idea of respect being age-dependent should be debunked. Respect, being a higher virtue, transcends beyond the limits of age.

Furthermore, another important question is that of the relation between respect and obedience. Should respect, as is the norm, be equated with obedience? Given the rapidly changing dynamics of the present world, it should not.

The last few decades have transformed the world at an unprecedented rate, and the generation gap has been rather sharply amplified by technological advances.

With evolving technology, cultural ideals also evolve, necessitating an inclusive culture where the youth also enjoy a say in the decision-making process. Depriving them of a voice and imposing obsolete ideas upon them carries the seeds of societal decay. Conformity, blind obedience and discouraging dissent cause intellectual stagnation.

It is high time we adopted an open-minded approach and admitted that respect and dissent could go together. Actions prompted by independent, critical and informed analysis of facts should be valued.

Sardar Saifullah
Abbottabad

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Elections in India
Updated 21 Apr, 2024

Elections in India

Independent accounts and spot reports are at variance with Modi-friendly TV anchors and they do not see an easy victory for the Indian premier.
IHC letter
21 Apr, 2024

IHC letter

THIS is a historic opportunity for the judiciary to define its institutional boundaries. It must not be squandered....
Olympic preparations
21 Apr, 2024

Olympic preparations

THIS past week marked the beginning of the 100-day countdown to the Paris Olympics, with the symbolic torch-lighting...
Isfahan strikes
Updated 20 Apr, 2024

Isfahan strikes

True de-escalation means Israel must start behaving like a normal state, not a rogue nation that threatens the entire region.
President’s speech
20 Apr, 2024

President’s speech

PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari seems to have managed to hit all the right notes in his address to the joint sitting of...
Karachi terror
20 Apr, 2024

Karachi terror

IS urban terrorism returning to Karachi? Yesterday’s deplorable suicide bombing attack on a van carrying five...