“THE AGE OF INNOCENCE & THENCE-FORTH” – by Noor Rahim
As is my routine, in retired life; I sit relaxed on the porch and watch the clouds roll by. For want of something better to do, my mind as usual, wanders into the “reminiscing mode”. Reversing right back into the past; and thence-forth back again into the “comparison mode”, to that of the present day experiences.
I feel lucky and very fortunate indeed that I was born 8 and a half decades ago; when the “Age of Innocence” was a fact and ruled the roost. In comparison I find and lament, that this is hardly so in the present days. I now wonder in amazement if the “Age of Innocence” is almost fictional or just one of those periods that has phased away with time. The only exception I believe is in the “eyes of the Law” where it is stated that a Person is innocent until proven guilty.
Brought up in an era; where society valued and inculcated simplicity, spirituality, respectability and high morality; as the code of conduct in everyday life. The elders always focusing on goodness based on innocence; and innocence based on truthfulness. These were indeed the valued and cherished concepts, in the family upbringing of human beings; in every community/society.
How often has one heard the remark – “Innocent as a new born Babe”. A remark/statement made in pun or with a truthful meaning. For a fact all children are indeed born as innocent; as certain as there is always a day and night.
But as the days roll-by and the “days of understanding” kicks-in; the child soon uses his/her own faculty of thinking. Like a young sapling that can be shaped without breaking the tree; the time would be rife for the Parents and elders to mould the child in the correct ways in the “walk of life”. But in the eyes of the law, children’s rights and other enforcement groups, the old saying of “Spare the rod and spoil the child” would be construed as cruelty and abuse of children. In hind sight we did endure the full wrath of this old saying; and one can proudly say that this made us better and well disciplined persons in the society; which concept we still do retain – proudly I may say.
One may classify the “days of yore” as the “laid back years”. Life trundled along in a very easy pace. As one would say “no sweat” everything is going fine. Stress was virtually an unknown factor in those days; except among the punters at the horse races gripping their chair arms or biting on their fingernails as the horses went neck to neck by the winning post. Media and communications were slow – be it travelling or communicating with each other. There was only the radio to listen to for news broadcasts and entertainment in media communications. Of course there was the cinema for visual entertainment. Strict censorship did prevail and was strictly enforced. To ensure folks, especially the young, wouldn’t get the wrong “notions”. Controlled by strict moral codes and ethics; prevailing during this era. Listening to radio broadcasts of plays and dramas was such a thrill; with the re-enactment of the story in one’s mind according to his/her fantasies.
The advancement and fast growth of science, technology and research has changed the “laid back era”. The advancement is now a necessity in this era of toeing with the “Global Economy” and further developments are no doubt in the making. The old adage of “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” has taken a drastic turn in the new Global Economy of today; as these needful inventions are more in lines of how lucrative these inventions can be made into – yes, the “Greed Factor” is what one sees in the concept. Add to this are the many laws and freedoms that are abound. To mind comes that of “Freedom of Choice”; “Freedom of Speech”; “Freedom of Rights” and “Freedom of Whatever…..” Thus we have now entered a newly conceived “fast paced era” or is it “the jet age era”; or is it the “jet-set era”; in keeping with the wishes of the select section of the populace – be it good or bad?
The God given human and spiritual values of yesteryear appear archaic and redundant in a society that has now been influenced by temptation; credit cards and life of spendthrift. Which are the products of greed; waste and wants. Stress is a factor that has crept in surreptitiously into the lives of those who follow these ways of temptation. Even the days of religious significance are marred by “commercialization”. All you see are the “Buy! Buy!! & Buy!!!” signs. How often does one see the “Pray! Pray!! Pray!!!” signs; except at the entrances to the Places of Worship. The only other sign may be the “Bye! Bye!! Bye!!!” signs at ones farewell. Yes then it maybe a tad too late for repentance.
If one does not follow the path of modernization they are deemed backward and “have no life”. Virtually calling them “frogs in the well”. Modern Society requires that everyone must conform to advanced technology and way of life. The progress made no doubt is a very giant stride in a changing world of technology; human rights and economics. But one can only pose the question of its’ effects on morality and spirituality. Knowing people for what they are; is now replaced (it seems) by “knowing people for what they possess”.
Another old saying comes vividly to mind. It was my student days at a leading Catholic College, where oft did I hear them say “Patience is a Virtue”. What a wonderful saying which in translating from the dictionary revealed that “Patience” meant – “The ability to wait for something without frustration; which is a useful skill and a good aspect of one’s personality”. “Virtue” being moral excellence; goodness; righteousness”. What a wonderful saying from the days of yore. But this saying lies somewhere neglected in the archives of the current generations. The flouting of it is vastly demonstrated by the motorists on the road. Perhaps they should flaunt the saying of “It’s better to be Late than the Late”. But not necessarily the motorist. You see the non-compliance to this old saying in every aspect of life these days. The disrespect for others are really rampant among most; and the saying of “Courtesy/Respect begets Courtesy/Respect” is now just a mirage.
In the modernization process one wonders where “the age of innocence” has gone? Where are the old sayings of “give respect to get respect” and “courtesy begets courtesy” gone? Only to be replaced by “variety is the spice of life” (to its’ fullest extent – be it bad or good) and “make hay while the sun shines”. Into this melee one may even add the old saying of “each one for him/her self and God for us all”. Well I’m no Philosopher; Specialist or Expert on the subject. I can only speak of my own views, thoughts and experiences encountered throughout the almost 8 and a half decades of my life; and leave the deductions in the hands of the Learned Reader. I still yearn for the good old days – days of togetherness; camaraderie and sincere feelings with one and all.
To quote the Great Persian Poet Omar Khayyam – “The hand having writ, moves on”. So my friends; here’s hoping that you find the article of some use to you. Whatever you do; please remember that when you are born “in innocence” you also come with the Almighty’s one way ticket and the rest is up to your goodself.
February 14, 2022