What happened to the days when children belonging to all the classes of society could walk safely back home all by themselves? Are we determined to raise only the labour for the developed and rich countries of the world? Why do we not see integrity and ethics as criteria for choosing friends and leaders? I am sure, like me, these questions keep on popping up in the minds of many of my fellow countrymen too. If we consider the problems afflicting the nation as a whole then probably only we are to blame.

Let us look at the general scenario in our dear motherland. Our residential areas hardly have social facilities like parks, libraries (which might be considered a luxury rather than a necessity here), garbage disposal, a reliable sewerage system, drinkable water, clean streets, proper schools, hospitals and so on. Most of our industries stand at the primary or the secondary level producing only raw materials or very basic items like pottery and cotton cloth. We do not even have a well-established structure of research and development – we have to import technology. Whereas the developed nations produce heavy mechanised equipment and expertly exploit the developing nations for their needs. Schools that are there for the masses, use orthodox methods of instruction. Hardly any importance is given to civic sense and social obligations, especially traffic rules and regulations. Land farming is still a job of the illiterates. Good parenting is an idea that majority of us do not know of. We are not even smart and responsible traders! There is a general attitude of negligence and carelessness where safety on the roads or inside homes is concerned. Motorways and bridges are being built at the cost of cities becoming dump-yards. People are forced to live in shanty towns and torn up tents made out of clothes – imagine that too in this age of technology!

But when we start talking about who is responsible, we hardly find anyone owning it. We seem to be a nation which has been orphaned. People are hurt, they are frustrated. Now they are all behaving like rebellious children, everything ethically wrong is becoming the way things are done! We are literally raising scared or selfish babies! Would we ever be able to undo any of this?

Moreover if we talk about the lifestyle, many people want to use the everyday latest technology but are not ready to learn the basics and ethics concerned with them – like the case of mobile phones, instead of using them practically they have become a source of wasting time! We have allowed all the elements for spoiling our generations to take root. Look at the advertisements around us, they are either telling how to find the perfect spouse, as if that is the only aim in life. Or how to be cool! I mean who will teach them values and culture? Parents do not have time – they are busy earning the bread. Media wants to earn money only; hence they are propagating what is cool and swanky. In other words spending money is becoming the only satisfaction in life!

Although we are in denial but there is a vast population in the rural areas that supports the ugly lynch laws, like the Yohanabad incident, the many punishments carried out by the jirga system etc., these should be looked upon in horror. We are letting our own brand of BJP to grow and terrorise the non-Muslims and the Muslims alike (because the authorities are not taking proper steps to curb them). Lack of government spending in rural areas is resulting in mass urbanisation, hence now, we have an even worse environment for the children to grow up in. A big city like Karachi has become a mafia hoard-house in itself.

In the olden times the Ulema used to be the most knowledgeable and learned people of the society, having insights in sciences as well as social sciences. Quran has many examples where Allah wants to make us see everything in scientific, as well as social perspectives. However, sadly nowadays we find the exploitation of the religious values at its highest by many clergymen, for money and power over the people.

It is important to know that people have been educating their children through homeschooling in the past, but with the modern needs of the society, schools have developed into learning centres where children learn social skills, like teamwork and sharing, besides the academics. There is a need to change the mindset about why there are segregated schools. The decisions about sending the children to co-ed or non-coed should not be on the basis of gender, rather on the fact that girls and boys have different energy levels as well as different learning behaviours. It is necessary to remove the taboo of communicating with the other sex. The ability and confidence to work with one another comes with a lot of difficulty later on, when they enter in their career lives, and it always remains overshadowed by the lack of ability to interact positively with one another. We see this many a times when there is abuse taking place in the households and workplaces.

Another issue is the growing lack of manners, amongst the children across families of all classes. One can observe this in the restaurants, where you go to relax, but if there are uncontrollable children around, it turns out to be the opposite, where parents are highly oblivious of the fact that somebody’s privacy and serenity is being trampled upon by their wards (I’m not against children having fun – but jumping and howling must take place in the playgrounds…not even in their own homes). Home and parents are supposed to be the first learning institution for a child. In the West there are designated areas in the public places and homes for the children to play in. This can be a start for teaching discipline. Most importantly the children learn to speak the way you talk to them – if you shout at and abuse them, they will do the same. Also we do not teach them to control emotions like anger, hence there is increasing intolerance.

This situation needs serious consideration of all those factors affecting our society. Good parenting which is at the heart of nation building, may be something to start with. Parents need to realise that they are raising the citizens of this country, the next generation. Their being poor or rich (Who can afford to hire help) does not rid them of the responsibility of the upbringing of their children. If there is corruption, dishonesty and negligence in the society then some of the parents are also to be blamed, because they kept their eyes closed.

Good parenting and upbringing should be taken up as an issue at the national level. Programs at school level should be arranged, to teach ethics and civic sense. Also some important laws in the Constitution, must be inculcated within the school curriculums. It is important that we must breed sympathy in the hearts of children (but we are a nation who teach our children to throw stones at stray cats and dogs, even innocent birds in the gallis and mohallas). In Istanbul I observed how people feed and care for the stray cats and dogs – they even build tiny shelters for them. Caring for animals can be used to nourish empathy!

We also have to let the children experience happiness; they will thank their creator better. For example, avoid taking children to the park in their best clothes, because then you will tell them not to play on the ground, as their clothes will be soiled! Parks are places where children can get in touch with nature… be dirty… let their energies out. Allah has created beautiful things. Everything has been created in harmony and symmetry. It means He considers these important… let your children appreciate beauty, harmony, calm, creativity and symmetry too. Most importantly we have to stop certain people who are teaching hate.

We need a strong and alert workforce, who can observe, analyse, reflect and can do self-learning. When we die we leave a legacy behind us. It depends if something good has been passed on or not…but it must be borne in mind that, every next generation will have diminishing values, if we do not give importance to the passing on of values and principles. I understand we lack having responsible people in the top echelons of the government. However let us, as parents and adults, at least raise a generation who can stand up to wrong. It is important that we stop now and correct our ways, before we make irreparable damage. It is already getting late.