In this digitalized era where every learner is learning through apps and gadgets, the crisis of human values is intensifying in contemporary society and casting its evil shadow in all walks of life without any boundaries in between of caste, creed, age, religion and ethnicity. The dream of ensuring harmony, happiness and prosperity seems to be just a dream that can never be fulfilled if no action is being taken in the direction with immediate effect to inculcate and impart values in young generation, which is completely engrossed in, and have become the puppet of technology including various social media platforms. This paper makes an attempt to explore what universal values are needed to be instilled in youth for a better society and their own holistic growth and how through poetry, values can be transferred in learners to ensure harmony and happiness, moreover to turn them in civilized professionals with suffice ethics.
Keywords: digitalized; harmony; prosperity; universal values; society.
For any society to flourish human values are substantially foundational. Values are “the principles, ideals, fundamental convictions and standard of behaviour that help in one’s judgment of what is important in life” (Sharma and Setia). If good core values are inculcated in the citizens of a society, the society moves towards the creation of a just, happy and good society.
Unfortunately, the promises we make to meet our destiny and the dreams we see to have prosperity, social well-being and human happiness prove to be false due to the absence of values in the people at present time; due to more inclination towards technology and secluded life rather than focus on rationality in thoughts and expressions without being selfish. This lacuna or value crisis prevails in different spheres of people’s life categorizing these into individual, societal, intellectual or cultural and nature levels.
Individualism has been rooted in people deeply and turning them towards attaining personal success or worldly success defined in merely materialistic terms as the acquirement of wealth, supremacy and status in society. A. N. Tripathi says:
“The rat race to this success commands the enthusiastic support of the powerful middle and elite classes. Their upbringing and enculturation have tuned them to the single-minded pursuit of career growth and economic success. All other life values, which give meaning, worth, and fullness to human existence, are seen as roadblocks and unnecessary diversions from the high road to material success.” (3)
Consequently, the perception of a good life is misunderstood as “with unrestricted enjoyment of sensuous pleasures and fulfilment of unlimited desires” which is a “consumeristic haven filled with all kinds of artefacts for comfort and luxury” (Tripathi 3). On the other hand, criticizing commonly accepted notions of success and the good life does not mean looking down upon the usual human preferences for monetary benefit, physical facilities and enjoyment of life’s pleasures. There is no doubt these things are important for life but are they the only things which are important for a good life? The question is what are the real goals of a human endeavouring for happiness and harmony? At present this crisis of values is basically due to excessive focus on the accumulation of materialistic things rather than paying attention to inculcating and implementing life values such as love, affection, empathy, respect, trust etc. According to A. N. Tripathi writes in his book Human Values about the dimensions of increased crisis of values may be due to increasing respectability of selfish individualism; rise in rights-consciousness and decline in duty-consciousness, and the mentality of adopting double standards of value judgment. (4-5)
Mainly there are two categories of people in society. On one side people who are self-seeking, career-oriented and people who just think about their personal advancement without paying much heed to human relations. In the contrast, there is another kind of
“individualistic personality; of those who refuse to submerge their individual identity in the tide of social and behavioural fashions of the day, who do not sacrifice their principles and values for pecuniary gains, and who are able to withstand unethical allurements of the work life and the psychological pressures of being the odd-man out.” (Tripathi 4)
This is a breed that is disappearing and another one is creating a crisis situation of human values in mushrooming youth. Therefore the youth should be educated to develop social consciousness, sovereign temper and communitarian outlooks to remove social inequalities, disharmonies and lack of social cohesiveness. Youth should be directed towards making society an enlightened and egalitarian society with better humans in it instead of focusing and utilizing all their energy on attaining physical facilities and achieving high status. It creates a dire need for the nurturance of human values in the youth of the country so that via implementing these values with the right understanding in them they serve the nation establishing harmony at various levels including individual, family, society and nature.
Imbibing basic human values and creating a deeper insight towards humanity can be actualized through value education in teenagers and young learners at the school and college levels. Hence “value education aims at developing deeper concerns amongst the individuals for the well-being of the society while being selfless,” it can assist in enhancing values in an individual, which “often gets overlooked due to the modern information-oriented education” and required to shape the personality (Jain 2).
A rich cultural heritage with saints, philosophers and many writers and poets are perfect illustrations who talked about the foundational values such as honesty, discipline, love, compassion, frugality, cleanliness, non-violence, courage, integrity, respect etc. These are the values which one needs to understand and express through one’s behaviour with the right understanding. Kshitiz Jain has communicated-
“The family and society act as constant teachers who keep on nurturing these values from time to time. They make an individual realize the true worth of these values. At times, they act as reflectors of human values. They strengthen the sense of differentiation between right and wrong. Both the family and the society explain that the values are universal in nature.” (7)
Values help in building social cohesion, harmony, peace and global integration and ideal humanity leading towards the dream of creating an ‘Akhand Samaj’. Via the process of exploring one’s ‘Self’ through either ‘experiential validation’ or ‘natural acceptance’ of values and understanding the needs of a human being differentiating animal consciousness from human consciousness, one can lead to a path of right living. The inculcation of values assists human in various ways as follows:
- It leads to a happy and healthy life fulfilling all aspirations and objectives of one’s life.
- It assists in deciding aspirations and aims for what one really wants via the process of self-exploration.
- It promotes tolerance and understanding for people across the world breaking all boundaries and eliminating barriers for making the world a global world.
- It enhances the decision-making power of a human differing right and wrong deeds to perform without hurting others moreover, assisting others to fulfil their goals too.
- It encourages keenness, and grows the right attitude and capability to deliberate and judge oneself.
- It helps in developing professional ethics in oneself to create and work in a better work environment.
- It triggers humans to make a balance between all four orders of nature including material, bio, plant and animal order.
Therefore the youth needs to act according to ethical human conduct for the holistic growth of oneself and the society including nature in it. The participation of an individual to ensure harmony at various levels includes accountability (jimmedari), right understanding (samajhdaari), honesty (imaandari), and participation (bhagidaari).
Subsequently, poetry is “one of the powerful instructional tools and an important art to study at any age and most universal vehicle of human expression” to spread harmony in society and to inculcate human values in the learners via good poems which are written by great poets whole over the world. (Anupama et al.)
Poetry being an aesthetic and expressive medium of communication touches the hearts of readers instilling fundamental core values in them. Moreover, poems have always been an excellent way in which depth of emotions is realized via its language’s richness. The purpose of writing poems by various poets may be different but many of them are written on diverse humanitarian issues and related to cherishing the beauty of nature which can be chosen for imparting and implementing of values in the young generation as these have the most intense and long-lasting impact on readers and listeners’ minds and hearts.
James Kirkup’s poem ‘No Men are Foreign’ is one of the upright exemplars to teach the value of universal brotherhood, non-violence and equality to create a harmonious environment in the world. He tried to make everyone remember that no man is a stranger and no country is a foreign country by the lines-
“Remember, no men are strange, no countries foreign
Beneath all uniforms, a single body breathes
Like ours: the land our brothers walk upon
Is earth like this, in which we all shall lie.”
Further, the poet gives evidence of the unity of man how all the people of the world are nurtured equally by natural resources like ‘sun and air and water’ and they all are “fed by peaceful harvests, by war’s long winter starv’d” (Kirkup). It can be instilled in the youngsters that everyone toils to earn livelihood and others’ destiny is also similar to ours. The poem teaches that whatever is told to us by leaders or rulers to hate or exploit the people of other countries or societies, “it should be remembered well that it is ourselves/That we shall dispossess, betray, condemn” (Kirkup). It clearly states that hatred and wars would deprive us of the bliss of universal brotherhood hence it is a form of self-destruction and we would doom ourselves to a life of animosity and eccentricity. Therefore everyone especially the youth of the country needs to understand that all are equal on the earth and we must live a valued life with universal core values such as love, respect and trust spreading harmony in the aura.
Our lifestyle, culture, gender economic or literacy status may vary but we all are the same as we all have some type of body with in which one’s ‘self’ resides and our heart breathes. Thus the poem can be taken for deliberation and facilitation of values in the youth to get rid of their minds of xenophobia and to treat the people of this world with a feeling of universal brotherhood as one. In the poem ‘Mending Wall’ Robert Frost also initiates by saying that there is something “that doesn’t love a wall” even though in the same poem he suggested that ‘Good fences make good neighbours’ (Frost).
An Indian-born Canadian poet Rupi Kaur talks about gender equality in her poems to create awareness in relation to equal human rights for women can be chosen to elaborate and impart value education in youngsters so that in our patriarchal society especially young boys and men understand it and change their mindset towards women and girls. Considering all equal, everyone should practice the value of love in him or her that she expresses through one of her poems –
is an easy lazy thing
but to love
but not all are
willing to practice.”
‘Viswa Kavi’ or poet of the world Rabindra Nath Tagore also advocated the idea of global uprightness due to his universal ideology. His poem “Where the Mind is Without Fear” is “a hymn to inspire all mankind” where he wanted India to be a fearless country post-independence following the ideology of peace, fearlessness and universal brotherhood. (Hasan) Badrul Hasan says-
“The verse continues to exhort people—particularly in conflict zones across the world—to seek fearless truth, progressive thoughts and actions, and to stand up and see the world as one, undivided by borders or “narrow domestic walls.”
Beyond racism and discrimination, Maya Angelou’s poems also try to empower humanity for making the world an integrated one spreading harmony at all levels without any boundary lines. There are many famous poets who have exerted through their poems to spread awareness and inculcate values in the readers and quoted by people frequently. Therefore poetry
“emphasizes the role of the senses, calling to mind memories and feelings and an excellent tool for encouraging students’ creativity and for exposing the aesthetically elastic boundaries of language. Poetry encourages students to develop empathy and understanding to view the complexities of the world in new ways.” (Anupama)
Having an important place in lives of people with excellent and rhythmical language used in poems, these poems not only attract people for the sake of attaining pleasure but also influence by the lexis and aesthetic qualities and shots of values to implement in their lives. They need to read or listen poetry with a mindset to explore the ‘self’ and to awaken the ‘sense’ and to connect with rest of the nature and society ensuring harmony and making a balance between the use of technology and ethics. Thus it can be said that a good literary piece of writing
“can be vital to language development and competence; conflict resolution; and cultural assimilation; emotional development and stability; development of positive and good oriented attitudes of life.” (Anupama et al.)
- Anupama, V. et al. “Role of English Literature to Inculcate Human Values”. Tejasvi Astitva- Multi-lingual Multi Disciplinary Research Journal.
- Frost, Robert. ‘Mending Wall.’ https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall
- Hasan, Badrul. A Hymn For All Mankind: Where The Mind Is Without Fear. https://www.readersdigest.in/conversations/story-a-hymn-for-all-mankind-where-the-mind-is-without-fear-…-125689
- Kaur, Rupi. https://www.littleinfinite.com/20-of-rupi-kaurs-best-poems/
- Kirkup, James. ‘No Men Are Foreign.’ http://www.english-for-students.com/no-men-are-foreign.html
- Jain, Kshitiz. Human Values. Neelkanth Publishers, 2014.
- Sharma, Priyanka and Rajni Setia. Human Values. Genius publications, Jaipur, 2017.
- Tripathi, A. N. Human Values. New Age International Publishers, 2014.
About the author
An avid poet, writer, humanitarian, ambassador of peace and professor, Dr Shalini Yadav holds a PhD in Post-colonial Literature and M. Phil in English Language Teaching (ELT) from the University of Rajasthan, India and a course in Advanced Creative Writing from the University of Oxford, UK. During her tenure as an educator in India, Libya and Saudi Arabia, she has participated and presented papers at conferences and seminars, chaired sessions and delivered lectures. She keeps reading her poems and short stories at various National and International poetry carnivals. She has meticulously written and also reviewed a large number of scholarly research articles for various National and International refereed journals and edited volumes. She is Public Relation Officer at iSPELL India, Administrator and Star Poetry Publisher at The Passion of Poetry and member of various literary societies including prestigious Writers Capital Foundation, ICERT, PLCS, AINET etc. She is Chief Editor for the International Forum of The Internal News. The editor of Open Page in Writers International Edition, she is also an efficacious member of the editorial boards of various qualitative journals of many countries. She has authored and edited 10 books till now and working on her next project entitled Contemporary African Women Writers . Her major books include Reconnoitering Postcolonial Literature , Emerging Psyche of Women: A Feminist Perspective , On the Wings of Life: Women Writing Womanhood , Postcolonial Transition and Cultural Dialectics , and Communication Techniques . Besides, her poetry books includes Across the Seas , Floating Haiku , Kinship With You: A Collection of Poems , Till the End of Her Subsistence: An Anthology of Poems , and one in Hindi Kshitiz Ke Us Paar . Many of her short stories and poems are published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and anthologies. She is recipient of Savitribai Phule Excellence Award-2023, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award-2023 and Global Women Icon Award-2023.