Saturday, November 29, 2008


The Mumbai carnage is yet another horrific wake-up call for us to increase our efforts at promoting peace and harmony. Prevention is always better than cure. A good starting point is at home, beginning with our children and grandchildren. We must teach them family values like love, respect, kindness, discipline, and compassion. As they grow up and their social circle widens, they must learn to apply these universal values in their interaction with other people – their schoolmates, colleagues and the community at large.

Children learn best when they have good examples to follow. It helps if parents practice what they teach to their children. What kind of models are we giving them if we, as adults, distrust or are suspicious of others of a different race or religion? Saying that we are all brothers and sisters is merely paying lip service when we do not follow up with action.

Parenting skills should go beyond learning how to deal with toddler tantrums and finicky eating habits. Likewise, teaching skills should cover much more than just imparting academic knowledge. We have to take our responsibilities of nurturing our children more seriously. If parents are too caught up with their career or business, then grandparents must take over. There's too much at stake. We cannot neglect the proper upbringing of our young.

Rather than hide the newspapers, turn off the TV or tell our grandchildren to look away whenever there are graphic images of war, poverty, or hunger, these images can be very effective in teaching them about the realities of life and about the consequences of our actions.

I am not advocating deliberately showing them pictures of human despair and horror, but should they come across them in the media and ask questions, we should tell them the truth at the level they are capable of understanding. But who are we kidding? Today's children are smarter than we think, and tougher than we give them credit for.

Terrorists were once innocent children who grew up in a home with parents and siblings. What turned them into fanatics and terrorists with little regard for life, whether it's their own or others? My guess is either they were not taught universal values from young, or were taught the wrong values.

World peace is attainable if we truly want it, and the time to act is NOW.

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