Lari Sara Kharwanlang and Marbabiang Syiemlieh
Moral values are a set of principles or standards which help us evaluate what is right and what is wrong. Usually considered as the roots of good character and in this way an individual shine in the society with his/her strong moral base and character. Moral values reflect the important basis of our society. A society is destined to deteriorate when people start losing morality and do not give importance to ascribed values. Just like a flower is incomplete without its fragrance, and individual is incomplete without having moral values. A plant needs soil, sunlight, water to maintain; similarly, a person needs moral values to sustain himself or herself in the society (Kaur, 2011).
A good person is one who has moral values and he/she is seen as someone who is positive, cheerful, and respectful and is always ready to help others in need of help. They are also honest, loyal and trustworthy. In addition, they are people who can be depended on and who are able to help or take responsibility for themselves and others when help is required. By having good moral values people can interact with others in a good manner where they would give the respect to others or they would interact by respecting others in a society with a certain level of success. When treating others in a way that assures good manners and dignity we can set an example to others and in this way, others will also treat us the way that we want them to treat us.
Good personal values help an individual to make decision and it is a principle which has passed down through our great grand-parents and it has also beenproven to be valuable in modern times as well. It is through good values that make an individual to behave in good manner thereby leading people to have a positive interaction in the society (Pitlane Magazine, 2018).
In the Khasi community, the concept of moral values is highly regarded as an important aspect in one’s life and in the process of socialization. The Khasi behaviour and the Khasi way of life go hand in hand. One cannot have the Khasi mode of life if they do not have the Khasi behaviour and vice-versa. Khasi life on the other hand also denotes qualities which are exhibited to the outsiders which are deemed to merit the Khasi nature which a person possesses and does it with the unique characteristic befitting the Khasi behaviour. Moral values are significant as they keep or allow individuals to have and strive to achieve better relationships with the family members, the neighbourhood, and the community as a whole; simply because values sustain the family and the community as units. It also helps to maintain unity and solidarity with one another towards any danger from external forces (Kurbah, 2012). For instance, parents, elders, uncles and so on teach a child on how to behave and learn certain values and principles that are acceptable and expected in the society. These concepts of values has been passed through generations from parents, elders, uncles and so on and it is considered to be one of the most important founding principles in Khasi society and is considered a must where each and individual should follow in order to live a worthy life according to the will of God or Ka Mon U Blei. This is being manifested in reality where there are evidently very rare cases of cheating, theft, robbery, raping and so on because all are conscious of their own destiny of being good and bad (Kurbah, 2012).
A recent study was conducted to measure the moral values practiced between two generations of people of twenty years differences. The study tried to elucidate the level of awareness and practices of moral values of adults who presently are in the age group of 30-33 years and children who presently are in the age group of 10-13 years. The methodology used was quantitative research in which a scale was used. There are six moral values that were identified to measure and they are simplicity, forgiveness, self-discipline, honesty, respect for others and tolerance.
Through the study, it was found that the adults are more aware and practiced these moral values during their childhood days as compared to children of the present generation in all the six domains. The rationale behind this is as follows:
Simplicity: The adults never had such inferior feeling during their times whereby they would judge their friends by their looks, status or fame but they would rather be friendly to everyone and have a feeling of unity or oneness. On the other hand, children of the present era would not like to mix with others who come from a low family background as they would want to be friends or mingle with children who are at of the same standard of living.
Self-discipline: The adults expressed that during their days, they were taught by their parents to be independent and were not being spoon fed but they have their own roles and duty that they need to complete which was not seen or expressed so much on children of the present generation.
Honesty: Parents, great grand-parents or elders would have time and also take the responsibility to keep an eye on their children on the activities that they do on an everyday basis. On the other hand, parents in the present generation are too busy, stressed or frustrated with their work where they do not have time to teach or correct their children in all imaginable ways, even between what is deemed to be right and wrong. Another factor contributing to this, is also majority of the families belong to a nuclear family in which the parents rely more on their maid or baby sitter.
Forgiveness: There is a saying “Everything a child learns, it starts from home”. Hence, it was seen that in the past, parents understood the importance of holding a family together through rough times. Therefore, as parents or grand-parents they did not show nor hold any grudges to others in the family but would rather forgive easily. Children in the present era are very observant in nature, and learned things through their parents’ activities. Children very often complaint that they come from a broken family when caught committing any delinquent act which denotes that families in the present era hardly hold on into their own traditional moral compromise.
Tolerance: Adults expressed that they do not have the feeling of inferiority as they would always agree with their parents and do what they were instructed or directed. Whereas children expressed less tolerance simply because the standard of living has change over the years in which parents can afford to give what the children wants which was not so with the adults during their times. This leads to children having lack of patience or the inability to wait for what they want or for what they need.
Respect for others: The adults looked up to the elders or parents in a way that they value them and also give and show a lot of respect to them. On the other hand, respect and regards, not only for family relations, but also for the societal set up seems to have degraded among the youth which is a serious concern. The respect shown and ascribed to parents seemed to have diminished over the years which are alarming. The concept of Kamai ia ka Hok, Im Tip-Briew Tip Blei, Im Tip Kur Tip Kha should not be allowed to be rendered archaic in the present society. Children on the other hand, expressed less respect for others and they do not give much importance to the elders, parents or others as they are in a generation where they always want to put themselves first.
Laxity in moral values can have far reaching complications in any given society. When moral values are not ascribed to be important or ignored, eventual and corresponding corruption of values takes precedence thereby leading to a degrading society. In 1999, Meghalaya has not registered even a single case in terms of juvenile delinquency and same goes for the year of 2000 (Kumar, n.d). Drastically, however, the Meghalaya Times (June14, 2018) reported that there is an increasing trend of crimes committed by children such as petty theft, shop-lifting, pick-pocketing, trafficking of drugs and other banned substances whichare on the rise in the state capital where even the minors, who have been addicted have turned traffickers in order to meet with their needs (Thomas, 2018).
As the years progress and with the advent of technologies, there is an increasing trend in crimes committed by juveniles. One of the major findings of the study is the fact that adult respondents expressed their allegiance and subscription towards moral values. Inference can be derived from this fact that the older generation had more allegiance towards moral values which resulted in positive attitude and behaviour towards the society which in turn can be attributed to nominal crimes committed by youngsters. Moreover, another conclusion of the present study is the evident lack of the children and youth of the present generation towards moral values which leads to rising crimes and associated anti-social behaviourisms. An important conclusion of the study is that when there is no continuity in the transmission ofvalues, there will be corresponding increase in behavioural deviations among members of the society. The study established that the present generation express less moral values which resulted in crimes committed by younger generations who did not have any allegiance towards values.
The study established the fact that children in this present generation have less inclination towards values which in turn establish the fact that parents do not make attempts to instil in their children the value of morals. The findings from the study suggested that moral values are indeed guidelines that control the conscience of a society and adherence to such values will reduce the incidents of crimes and will definitely prevent children from venturing into the world of crime. It is only when moral values in the family, community and society fail miserably then the anti-social elements springs up. Kaur (2011) says that socialization of a child is incomplete without moral education due to the simple fact that through moral education a person becomes a true human being where he/she can live a life in happiness and also make others happy and can bring peace in the society as well.
The present study was designed to bring about an understanding of attitudes and perceptions on moral values among the Khasis. Apart from the proven Kamai ia ka Hok; Im Tip-Briew Tip Blei; Im Tip Kur Tip Kha already prevalent in the Khasi society, the zeal to achieve more as a society should be ascribed to. We should not hesitate to inculcate positive community approaches practiced by our fellow tribal communities where moral values are assigned utmost importance. The foreboding apprehension of the past generation and the adventurist nature of the present generation should be given the opportunity to converge where all opinions can be heard and harboured. Should we adhere to or follow the principles which have been set by our great grandparents or should we altogether ignore as archaic conceptions? At the cost of the society without values where society is full of hatred and so on.Parents and teachers should emphasize on imparting knowledge regarding moral values to their children in the present context.Moral values should be considered as a major subject in schools so that children may get the concept of morality and can practice it regularly.Children should be enlightened about the consequences of lack of moral values or degradation of moral values as it will affect an individual. Children are our future generation and if they are not aware about it then our future generation will not be aware about moral values; parents must keep in mind that they are the role models of their children and it is the duty of parents, teachers and elders to instil moral values so that we have generations of children and youths who can take up the mantle of leadership for generations.
The writers are students of the Department of Social Work, Martin Luther Christian University.