On the way out this morning, I passed by a nice little park where people were engaged in light exercises and chatter. I overheard a conversation between a middle-aged gentleman and a younger woman who was a mother of two. The man was remarking how he was very shocked to see boys and girls of the neighbourhood going to decent junior colleges but yet used uncouth/swear words amongst themselves and “gathered” (in a condescending tone) under void decks. The mother clearly wasn’t very comfortable with the statement that the gentleman made, but couldn’t do much else other than smile and nod lightly.
Three jarring issues here: (i) the man is being judgmental, (ii) education and refinement are taken to run parallel, (iii) the light use of vulgar language and the stereotype of teenagers hanging out at the void deck.
First off, there’s no need to judge. Just about every other kid uses a swear word once in awhile, not a big deal. Likewise, the tables and benches at the void deck are meant for people to gather and engage in chatter, and even if it happens to be a group of boys and girls after a jog or an outing? No harm done anywhere.
Education and refinement are complementary, but not necessarily parallel in development. A man can be a brute and gain little from his superior education, just the same as how a man can be refined and polish but gain little academically. Yes it is true that education does teaches one to be more civilised, but if a person is not naturally refined in his mannerisms, it counts towards little. Refinement and mannerisms are based more upon upbringing than education, if we define education as formal schooling rather than true learning. So should a boy who swears not deserve a good education, or should a well educated boy not deserve to swear? (Note: Caste and social class are not included in this discussion to avoid complication.)
Stereotypes are generalisations, and should not be applicable to all. To believe firmly in stereotypes is to not have a mind of one’s own; it results in little more than shallow judgements and unfair criticisms. To judge in itself is not right, but to pass shallow or unfair judgements is outright wrong.
I am not angered or upset by what transpired; I am just a little amused by how the yardsticks that people use to judge each other. So what if you come from the top schools in the land? And so what if you swear a little here and there? All of us have an equal place to be here in this world, and no one should belittle that equality by judging an individual with shallow indicators.