Perhaps childhood memories start floating in our mind once we start growing older. After retired from government service few years back, like others, all childhood memories surrounding my village, my school as well as the people and my classmates, have been touching my mind every moment.
All of these come in front of my eyes like moving pictures. Actually, these things now and then throw me in nostalgia. The expression of morality and social responsibilities I had seen in the behaviours of the people of those days are somehow absent now-a-days. Perhaps time has changed the situation and all of those sentiments have been dumped as events of a forgotten culture. The situation, thus, compel us to lose our sense of justice and injustice. In the same way, love and affection among us, the living statues, are fading. There are examples of killing of parents by children or children by parents. The wounds created in our national and social lives due to massive immoral activities are incurable. Immorality is spreading among the people all over the country like infectious disease. As a result people are not only becoming frustrated, but losing their trust on human norms and values. Piles of questions thrust my mind when I think all of these. Is it fact that morality has been sent in exile or in the midway to exile? I get the reply, but that immediately increases my pains.
This writing is nothing but what I have seen in the 1960s as a village youth and what I have been seeing afterwards. Perhaps, my elders enjoyed stronger base of morality than my generation. Way of living in those days was more simple and easier than now. Normally, people were not so hanker after pomp and grandeur. Their demands always remained within their means. They enjoyed a happy and peaceful life with the means they could earn in honest way. Comparing to present day’s opportunities and facilities, there were nothing. But there were much peace and relief, though the life was full of needs and scarcity. The families and societies, eloquent with humanity, were strongly based on the pillars of values.
As practiced, families played the most important role in teaching morality. That time, maximum families were joint families. A family usually consisted of grand-parents, parents, brothers and sisters as well as uncles, aunts and cousins. The family bondage used to depend on the depth of relations existed among parents, grand-parents, brothers, sisters and other relatives. The social responsibility came from the relations among neighbours. It was a usual event to stand beside someone’s problems and difficulties or participate in someone’s sorrows and delights. The teachings of morality thus started from the relations based on mutual respect, love, affection and responsibilities. A child, grown up in that environment, could easily understand which one was good or bad and true or false. In addition, human qualities like attachment, sharing, tolerance, honesty, etc could easily develop in child’s mind and character.
After family, schools especially the teachers played an important role to transform a child into an ideal human being. There were not so many students, especially girls, at that time. Students were showered with love and affection. They were considered as the ideals of the society and the voice of truth and justice. The environment of the school, particularly relations between the students and teachers, behaviour and manner of the teachers and students, attracted other people to follow. Teachers’ firm moral strength used to influence slowly the minds of the students. However, the children who could not go to the school or were not interested, they learned morality from senior members of the family, neighbour and society.
Basically, the children always get moral teachings from the elders. The elders censured or advised the children irrespective of far and near ones, in case it was demanded. That means, all children were treated equally.
Nobody, in any way, supported immoral activities and behaviours; rather hated. Even the persons involved in such activities were expelled from the society or excommunicated. However, it is not true that there were no immoral occurrences. But the number was negligible. I can remember, everybody knew a corrupt person and considered him as a very bad person. Nobody respected or feared a corrupt person. A respected family never agreed to establish any relationship, like marriage, with a corrupted family. On the contrary, we see now just the opposite scenario. We are living in such an environment where money earned through corruption or illegal way is praised and appreciated by maximum people of the present day society. Perhaps, the word ‘morality’ has been advancing towards the destination of abolition. Who will come to prevent that?
It would not be very difficult to find out the reasons why the decadence of morality has now stood in such a miserable state. Not indicating our fingers towards any person, society or group, we can bring in front the entire scenario of the problem. Probable reasons I think responsible for this situation are- (1) Laxity in the family bondage has been growing due to evolution in its structure. Existence of joint family is at risk to abolition.
Members of the family are becoming selfish. Family values are losing its tradition. (2) Educational institutions are not giving importance to moral education. Relations between teachers and students are degrading. Morality sometimes goes over head and tears due to politics. It might so happen that no ideal students will be found in future for want of ideal teachers. With the increasing pollution in educational institutions, the ignited light of morality will blow out. (3) Scarcity of patriotism is seen everywhere. Actually, nobody evaluates a person’s degree of patriotism. The base of our morality could be stronger if we could have love for our motherland and thus personal gains would not get so much preference giving up the interests of the country. (4) Existence of love and attachment among us becoming evident every day. We can see thousands of such stories around us. It is needless to say how much helpless we are. (5) Influence of degenerated culture is weakening the base of our morality especially morality of the young. Those, who are accepting foreign culture dispelling their own culture and tradition, are not only damaging themselves but the entire society. (6) Having monetary benefits through immoral practices destroy human character. Corruption, one of the worst diseases, does not only appear as social interdiction, but damages quietly the fundamental structure of the state. However, the people, who are doing this, know it very well that they are doing wrong. (7) In fact, the state and society are not playing proper role in the development of human morality, preservation of morality as well as its implementation. Inattentiveness in this matter should not be acceptable to anybody. (8) Sometimes, evil political activities appear as a heavy blow on morality. It would not be so much difficult to find such examples in our country. (9) Economic disparity in the society very often dangles the base of morality, inspires to earn money in illegal way. Thus, morality is being shattered by that brute force. (10) Morality, slowly becoming sick, would one day be abolished in want of healthy mentality of the state and its people. A large portion of the people of Bangladesh, I believe, has already been the victims of immorality. On the contrary, the scenario could just be opposite if we could create a sustainable moral environment.
As I feel, we can consider the following measures to prevent the erosions of morality- (1) We should create, from our respective position, awareness in each family about the importance of morality including necessary advices and suggestions. It is also important to make everybody aware about respect and responsibilities for social values as well as manners and customs. Not only in the cities, meetings and seminars on this issue could be organised in rural areas. Media can play a very crucial role in this respect. (2) A course on morality and patriotism might be introduced in schools and colleges especially up to 12th class. That course should also cover the history of Bangladesh and our War of Liberation. Lives of historic and memorable persons, especially our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, should be included in textbooks. (3) Relations between and among teachers and students should be worthy to follow. Educational institutions should be the centres to produce ideal persons. We should keep our eyes alert so that no immoral interference derails the ideals of education. (4) It might produce very positive result if students could be inspired and involved in various social services and humanitarian activities. The participants could be provided with certificates including special facilities in their education and professional lives. (5) The bondage of love, affection, attachment and respect existing in and among families and societies should be strengthened. We should develop the habits of standing besides others in their sorrows and miseries, dangers and difficulties. (6) There is no alternative but to keep unflinching eyes on morality of the leaderships in our social, cultural, economic and political sectors. The country and its people would walk in the right direction when there will be perfect leadership. Sometimes it makes us alarmed when we see a right issue is stained. Only a leadership, borne from the ideals of morality, can present us an ideal country as well as society. (7) We should protect our own culture and tradition from its seizure by toxic foreign culture. It does not mean that we will not accept anything good coming from other cultures. (8) Society and state could be kept free from defilement by avoiding the immoral way of earning wealth or power. We should keep ourselves away from the activities that bring harm for the country and its people or interrupt country’s overall development. (9) It is not only to create an environment of morality, but to hold it strongly and advance it continuously in every sector of Bangladesh.
Coming to the end of my writing, I would like to recall something. We did not have any idea about the outside world being students of a rural area in the 1960s. However, in addition to our textbooks, we had to take away two books per week from our school library to read at home. Among those books, all books of Dr Lutfar Rahman were much liked. Still we feel the influence of those books in our minds and thoughts. We cannot disregard the role of those books in growing up our morality. Can’t we introduce those or similar books to our children?
Many may contradict a number of issues mentioned in this writing, many may add more information. This is quite natural and I also think so. I strongly believe that if we can find out something commendable from all our thoughts and put forward for future generation. In that way, we would be able to play a positive role from our respective positions to the formation of a responsive society and state by preventing the eradication of morality.
A person with strong morality never bends his head to an evil power, though it might be a very courageous job in a rotten unhealthy society. Therefore, we have no way but to enlighten ourselves with moral character to save our family, society and state that means the entire human civilization.
The writer is a former ambassador and secretary