The Art of Thinking Independently Together

Rousseau, the great philosopher said ‘man is born free and everywhere he is in chains’.

Humans are indeed a unique creation of God, not just as individuals but also as an integral part of human society. Every newborn is unique and unlimited. While the society teaches him lot of valuable lessons and ways to lead his life it often forgets to value his uniqueness and beauty.

More so, at home, at school and wherever the child goes, there is a comparison with others. The child soon learns that I am incomplete and I have to prove myself better than others. We do not realise that by doing this we go against nature as we tell him that he/she is not beautiful in his own way and limit his imagination, dreams and aspirations. These limitations cause pain and stay with him for the rest of his life. He treats others also as he was treated and this cycle goes on and on and on.

We have also seen that in a select few households this doesn’t happen. The family members understand and preserve the distinctiveness of every child and let them do what they like and in fact help them discover what they want to do. My own family has been one such family.

My elder sister and I were never compared to each other or to our friends. While she was interested in studying and reading even in her free time, I loved painting and playing most of the time. Our family let us be ourselves. We had the same parents, same family, same school, lived in the same room, yet thought differently and had our own dreams. And while we felt independent amidst diverse people in our family, we were also encouraged to have our own thoughts and not get swayed by everyone else. We were made to feel confident and secure in being independent. Respecting independent nature of all family membersis a prerequisite for accomplishing a family’s three most common yearnings- each family member’s happiness, family togetherness and professional and personal growth.

However, in a family while living together, it becomes pretty hard for people to accept each other the way they are. There are small issues that crop up everyday. We often feel we are not being understood or less valued. Why does this happen? What really is the reason behind it?
Perhaps the thought that the love and attention given to me is/would be divided underlies this feeling. However, is there a limit to how much one can love? Is it really measurable? Human beings have infinite love within them. Hence, they can love countless number of people and express their love in different ways. Psychologists say love only multiplies within by sharing it, hence logically as well we must understand that it is in fact better that your close one loves so many people.

Nurturing independent thinking, giving up comparisons and believing in everyone’s ability for endless love may at least make our families become what Rabindranath Tagore prayed for our nation:

“Where the mind is indeed without fear and the head is held high,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action”

Into such heaven of freedom our families will surely awaken!

-By Simran Sainani

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