A parent's love knows no boundaries
Rich or poor, high or low, most parents devote their lives to the family. The humblest rickshaw puller dreams of his sons and daughters having a better life than his own. Every household has maids who may have been abandoned by their husbands but work tirelessly, so that their children may have the best education within their means, and thus a better opportunity for a better life.
The more prosperous among us send their children to the best schools they can afford, and give their children every comfort.
It would seem that all this love and care by both rich and poor parents in normal households would definitely bring children happiness and good values.
By the age of reason, which should logically be 16, young people should, in most cases, have a fairly good idea of what interests them, what their ambitions are for the future, and how to achieve their aims, particularly if they have the guidance and advice of their families.
Yet, many of our young, especially from affluent families, are lost and without direction in their lives. Dissatisfaction, boredom, alienation, unfocused rage, and substance abuse are becoming more and more common in youth from backgrounds where they have the best in education, quality of life, and career options.
One would suppose that the logical choices for young people would be to build upon the foundations of their own good fortune by gravitating toward positive causes, such as regular careers, or, for the more altruistic among them, helping in the alleviation of poverty, helping in education, advocating better health care, combating social inequality, and a hundred other social causes, which would truly advance the less privileged among us.
It raises the question: what have we parents done wrong? Have parents, in fact, gone wrong at all, or is this a universal malaise, an existentialist angst, where the quest for identity at a certain age is so fraught that our young become more easily vulnerable to subtle manipulation by interested parties?
In Bangladesh, we have a very strong racial and cultural identity. And yet it seems this is not enough. The quest for identity or a finding meaning in life has begun to take mystifying paths. Emotional turmoil in the face of family tensions or unsatisfactory social or romantic relationships are understandable, or if there are outlier tendencies, and an inability to adapt to peer values.
However, it has become painfully apparent that these pressures have made some young people of today especially vulnerable to conversion to different types of radical causes.
The scariest part of these conversions is that the reasoning is so convoluted that reason itself is confounded. There is no rational explanation for young people taking up causes that involve acts of violence against innocent people, wounding their loved ones, bringing untold grief, both to their own parents and the parents of the victims. They destroy themselves when God has given them the bounty of this world and commanded them to enjoy it.
In these unusual times, nobody has any clear answers about what to do, and how to assist the troubled young, least of all the parents themselves.
All we can do is be extra vigilant in observing changes in behaviour, habits and attitudes in our adolescent children.
It seems we will never find answers to our questions because at least in Dhaka, the ones who were most likely to supply those answers have died, along with their innocent victims.