Living in an imperfect world
If there is only one thing I have to teach my kid, I would like to teach him how to live in an imperfect world.
Nature may seem to be perfect; the creation may seem all perfect. All creatures are happy as long as they get enough food when they are hungry; they can survive and procreate.
But people’s world is grossly imperfect. That is why we are disappointed all the time.
When we were hunter-gatherers, like other animals, we were happy as long we had enough food to satisfy our hunger and could procreate.
As the wheel of civilization progressed, we developed intellect; it was almost like a superpower; however, our biological body almost remained nearly the same as it evolved very slowly.
Now it’s like having a powerful piece of software running on older hardware.
That is where our rational brain and emotional action differ.
While we all think we are rational beings and fundamentally fair to others, the truth is that we are self-preserving and emotional beings. So, whatever we do is not necessarily rational and perfect.
Growing up, I believed anything printed in the newspaper had to be true. Anything written in books must be the epitome of wisdom. The custodian of religion and states are driven by purity of purposes.
But it did not take much time for me to get disillusioned. Today we all know how media manipulates stories and how leaders are primarily driven by their agendas rather than the stated purposes.
We almost create two parallel worlds- one is nice and benevolent, and the other is dark and manipulative. We all think we are part of the first one and our descendants will also be part of that world.
That is why parents always try to protect their children from the evils of society while they are growing up. They will create a bubble around them where everything is pure and sound, as if that eternal goodness will never cease and evil exists.
Like the biblical apple, God wanted to bar Adam and Eve from eating forbidden fruits so they would not have the knowledge and live happily in heaven.
Like Siddhartha was made to live isolated in a make-believe fairyland without human misery, death, or any other ills.
Yet, Siddhartha eventually witnessed the misery and frailty of human life. He learned that misery is true and that the only path of wisdom and self-awareness will lead to true salvation and liberation from suffering.
Since we as parents try to create an illusionary world for our children where we do not acknowledge the evil side of the real world, we bring up a generation that is inept in handling the imperfect cryptic world. That leads to constant disappointment in the later stages of life when they face the real world.
I know we can not expose young and unadulterated minds to the dark sides of the world in the formative years, and we want to build a good value system for them.
Yet, it is true that even young minds are capable of indulging in many vices like aggressiveness, jealousy, lying, cruelty, etc. So it is not true that young minds do not have dark sides. Maybe those vices are expressed as spontaneous outbursts rather than cold-blooded manipulations of adults.
Whatever the situation or reason, sooner or later children will have to live in the real world. A world that is not all hunky dory but full of petty politics, toxic competition, jealousy, manipulations, and whatnot.
Now, once our children are out of college and stepping into work, all these will start showing up in their life. They would already have experienced some of it and learned to handle it in school, college, and in groups. However, the complexity and magnitude of the situation could be overwhelmingly large.
In this situation, we could let them learn on their own and be adept and ready for life, or we would have prepared them by talking about the real world and its imperfections.
Most of us love to share stories of our victories and successes with our near and dear ones. While that may be important, it is equally important that we tell them how we failed because we were naïve and how others manipulated and cheated us. Otherwise, what is the use of carrying so many experiences if others can not learn from them?
Some of my earlier failures and disappointments would have been easier had I known the tricks played or had someone told me about them. I would not have taken things naively and at their face value and tried to understand the underlying agendas.
Knowing both sides of human behavior — the good and altruistic side and the dark side is very empowering. Of course, that does not mean being judgmental and having a binary view of people, good or bad. We all have shades of greys apart from our black and whites. Our ability to decode that is a superpower.
Knowing and acknowledging all sides helps us to navigate situations better rather than being in denial.