Language is not a barrier for kids

Language bridges people from across the world. It helps us to communicate with each other.  We can share ideas, solve problems and help each other succeed because of language.  But sometimes we believe language becomes a barrier between people and even communities and states.  Why does this happen ?  There is no logic to explain this nor reasons to justify it.

Let us look at children.  Have you ever seen children not mingling with each other because they cannot speak a common language.  I have never seen that.  On the contrary, I have even recently experienced my grandson and my nephew’s son play with each although they do not speak any language in common.  Children have a way to communicate with each other without any language.  Language is never a barrier for kids to share and enjoy together.  Why should it be for the elders ?

We have an opportunity to learn from children.  As elders, we make language a barrier between us. We feel it breaks down communication and will easily blame communication as a barrier.  How do children overcome this barrier ?  How do they communicate even without knowing the language of each other ?  I am reminded of a story, which happened in India a few decades back.  A french anthropoligist was visiting India to study in some part of rural India.  He neither knew english nor Hindi.  He was also not familiar with the local regional languages of that part of India.  When asked how he would do his research without knowing the local language, he responded that he would visit the villages and behave like children and then the villagers would respond.  This will help him study their behaviour.

Thus we need to realise that language can be an enabler for better communication.  It should not be a barrier to deal with each other.  It is also interesting to note that more than 70% of our communication is done non verbally.  Hence, how can we blame language as a barrier, which in any case only accounts to that balance 30% of communication between human beings.

It is fascinating to see children talk to each other without knowing each others’ language.  They are not only able to communicate with each other but even able to coordinate with each other seamlessly.  If you see them play a game together, you will see this in action.  What prevents the elders to not do the same? As we grow older in life, our ego becomes the barrrier between human beings and not the language.

We tend in live in own world and refuse to adapt ourselves to others as the situation demands.  Children are adaptive by nature.  They are always willing to give more than they take from others.  They listen more attentively.  This makes them communicate with each other bettter without blaming language or other factors as barriers.

It is time to reflect, un learn and re-learn this adaptive nature from kids.  Their ability to adapt is admirable.

It is time for change.  What do you say ?

S Ramesh Shankar

Sights and Insights

Instant Gratification

We live in an era of “quick fixes” for everything in life.  We want “ready made food” in the kitchen to brokers to do all our jobs at half the time to finishing an educational course by hook or by crook.  We are impatient for results and are least bothered about the process.  On a lighter vein, at least God has ensured that we have to wait for 9 months to have a child.  If we could influence that, we would have tried 2 minute babies like noodles !  Children look for instant gratification in everything they do and that is understandable.  However, as adults instead of learning the good things from children, we carry it in on in our life and want instant results for all our actions. 

Why are we in a hurry today ?  Is it because of the competitive landscape around us ?  Is it because of the limited resources available to us in the world. ?  I am not very sure.  But, let us get to the root cause of the issue.  We all go through the same education system, live in the same society and have the same opportuities and resources.  We want to take more than we give back to society.

If we look at the competitive landscape around us, we find that this is injected in our blood right from childhood.  As children grow up in a community, parents induce competitive behaviour in us.  We have to be better than our neighbours in everything we do.  We spend more time in tuition classes than even in the school classrooms.  We have to learn sports, music, art and other hobbies irrespective of our own intersts.  All this is encouraged by our own family and friends. Then, how can we blame the society around us.

If we move to the work place, we compete with everyone around us and want to establsih our superiority by every possible action at our command.  Our performance management systems are based on differentiation and relative assessment of performance.  We blame the bell curve for our irresponsible behaviour.  Are we justified in our actions.  I am happy that many organisations today are giving equal weightage to “What” & “How”of performance.  We not only are rewarded for the results per se but how we accomplished those results.

In many cultures, your value is measured by the size of your car and house and not by the size of your heart.  Material wealth is valued much more than mental, physical or emotional wealth.  It is this orientation in society that may have led us to this state of affairs.  We are keen to plunder the wealth of the society and nature around us but least bothered about how we can give back.  We are not much concerned about our future generations.  While technology has helped us lead better lives, we have not used technology to better human kind.

Whom should we blame for this state of affairs ?  We have to blame ourselves. We need to reset our buttons.  It is time for Control + Alt + Del in our life.  We need to re discover our priorities.  We have to instil excellence in our children as a value but not at the cost of other children.  We have to give back more to society than we take.  We have to make individuals care and share in organisations to create collective happiness.

Let us restart today.

S Ramesh Shankar

Role Reversal

As we grow up as kids, we all are in awe of our parents.  We adore them and think they are everything to us.  We respect them, serve them and even role model their behaviour in our everyday life.  They become the standard for most things we do in life.  We consult them and seek their advice in any dilemma or major decisions in life.  This continues till the day we stand on our own feet.  

As we become independent, we start believing that the world is in our control.  We may not disrespect them but tend to take decisions on our own.  Our parents are proud of our independent nature and they let go their control over us.  We gain confidence and lead our own lives in our own way.

We get married and our spouse enters our lives.  She/He contributes equally to our well being and participates in all our decision making processes.  Some of us continue to seek advice from our parents even at this stage as we respect their acumen.  Then we bear kids and many a time move away from our homes in view of career compulsions.  This not only makes us physically away from our parents but also tends to emotionally distance us.

Our parents continue to believe that we are connected with them emotionally and we will take care of them for the rest of their lives.  But suddenly, the pressures of work , family commitments and the demands of our careers takes us farther away from them.  They are left lonely at home and mostly to fend for themselves.  Many a time , as children, we do not have the time or the intent even to visit them leave alone take care of  all their needs.

Suddenly, our parents feel the vacuum in their lives.  They feel helpless and not taken care of.  They do not look upon us for our monetary support.  They are more interested in our emotional support.  We think we have done our duty by sending some money every month or by providing a lot of material support for their physical convenience.  We do not realize that at this stage of their life, they look for emotional well being rather than material comforts.

I have always wondered why this change as the roles reverse in our lives.  Why do we not realize that this is a cycle of life and one day we will be in their position too.  What happens to all their contributions to our success in life ? Why do we become less grateful to them ? Why does selfish interest make us forget to be grateful to our parents, who have made us what we are today ?

May be I do not have the answers but I do have many questions.  May be I can be different now and in the future.  What can make us realize that this is the core of the Indian culture.  How can we sustain and preserve it for our future generations ? Can I commit to be different and be a role model for my children and grand children to follow ?

Even today, there are many good people, who take care of their parents( like my aunt in the picture above taken care by her son and daughter in law) and I salute them.

S Ramesh Shankar