KVE301/KVE401 Universal Human Values and Professional Ethics
Chapter 8: Harmony in Family – Understanding Values in Human Relationships
The problems due to Differentiation
Differentiation based on Sex/Gender
There are many movements in the world around this. For example, we have the issue of women’s rights, and women protesting and demanding equality in education, in jobs, and in peoples’ representation. The growing feminine movement is an example of this. As discussed earlier, this problem is acute in some areas, with people not wanting a girl child and preferring male children instead, while in some other societies, it could be the other way round. At the level of the individual, people are insecure and afraid of one another based on their gender.
Differentiation based on Race
There are many movements and protest against racial discrimination, and demand for equality. We hear of racial attacks, which are basically to do with this issue of respect. The movements against cast discrimination have been growing in India for over decades. Such discrimination leads to people living in fear of such racism, racist attacks, casteism, and discrimination.
Differentiation based on Age
We hear of protests and movements demanding equal rights for children on the one hand and for rights for elderly people on the other. The problem of the generation gap is talked about quite often. One generation talks about being ignored by the other generation, and this has become the source of tension in many families.
Differentiation based on Wealth
This is an area that is increasingly becoming a very big area of differentiation and is leading to all kinds of large-scale problems. We are all aware of the whole debate around rich countries and poor countries. Not understanding the need for physical facilities, and working for wealth to fetch respect has led to class struggle and movements to do away with class differentiation. If the need for physical facilities is understood properly, we do not identify it with happiness. Otherwise, we find a large problem at the level of individuals, with many people suffering from a lack of self-esteem and some even committing suicide when they feel they cannot accumulate enough wealth so as to get the respect that is due to them.
Differentiation based on Post
We see protests against high-handed government officials because people feel they are being taken advantage of. This is due to the tremendous differentiation we make on the basis of position. At the level of the individual, it also leads to depression, etc. since if someone does not get or qualify for a post, they end up feeling that they will not get respect in society.
Differentiation based on Isms
We are all quite aware of this differentiation on the basis of different thought systems. Communism for example always seems to be at war with capitalism and feudalism. We hear of fights, turmoil, terrorism, and war, most of them to do with these Isms. We even hear of people converting from one Ism to another in order to be able to get more respect.
Differentiation based on Sects
We are all well aware of this. We have ended up making countless religions and sects and each sect has its own movement to ensure that there is no discrimination against people of their belief. There are demands for special provisions in jobs and in education based on religions and sects. Some of these protests and clashes between people of different beliefs even turn violent.
What is the Way Out
To move beyond differentiation, we have to begin to understand the human being as the co-existence of self (‘I’) and the body and then base our evaluation on the basis of the self (‘I’), where we will find that we are similar to the other (in terms of our natural acceptance program of action and potential). This becomes the basis of the feeling of respect in our relationships with other human beings. We differ from the other only in terms of competence, and there we either learn from the other or take responsibility for helping the other to improve their competency. So, we need to start this process of self-exploration and begin to see that human being is actually co-existence of self (‘I’) and body, and the two have different needs.
It is important to remember that respect (or right evaluation) is a value (feeling) in a relationship. Once, we have this feeling of respect out of the understanding of relationship, it is the state of harmony between one human and the other.
The difference between me and the other can only be at the level of understanding (not information). It is important to differentiate between ‘understanding’ and ‘information’. This difference manifests as a meaningful responsibility and is not a criterion to hold superiority or inferiority.
- If the other has a better understanding than me
- I want to understand from the other. This is my responsibility.
- If the other has less understanding than me
- I live with a sense of responsibility with the other, ensuring mutual fulfillment and I accept the responsibility to improve the understanding of the other. This again is my responsibility since I am related to the other. (Would I not work on developing the understanding of my relative?)
- If the other has a better understanding than me