Saturday, June 22, 2024
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An Era of Depreciation

Fr Paul Lelen Haokip
Humans become more critical and judgmental with education. Gradual deterioration of cultural values is the order of the day. There are more dissenting voices than aligning supports. Institutions haul each other with contempt; political parties publicly decry and mock each other almost like a child’s way. Debate participants in TV shows and news channels cross lines of sanity and civic respect. All these audio-visual dramas are consumed by the spectators (young and old). Young people are largely affected by the era of depreciation and slurs. Depreciation is ‘a reduction in the value of an asset over time, due in particular to wear and tear; the expression of a negative view of someone or something; criticism or disapproval’.
Purposeful depreciation
The growing practice of purposeful depreciation is a social malady facing many communities wherein a person or party purposely ignores the good and amplifies the negatives. Life is not a perfect slate for anyone. There are rooms for improvement while there are good things worthy of appreciation. Depreciation disheartens people and could lead to self-dejection. A sense of worthlessness can creep into the minds of people who face continuous depreciation. This societal sickness can affect the younger generation to ignore the good and expand the negatives of life, thereby leading to enmity and sour interpersonal relationships. Purposeful depreciation can demonise a person to the extent of affecting his or her mental health and well-being. At best, depreciation is a manipulative ploy to disregard others and trumpet oneself as better than others. There are more criticisms than appreciation in society. ‘Most psychologists agree that criticism does not lead people to change behaviour. Instead, it creates anger and defensiveness on the part of the person criticised. Communication between the parties is shackled, and positive relationships impeded’ (Karass Seminars). While timely correctional measures are beneficial, willful depreciation is not a solution or a medicinal treatment.
Distortion of people’s culture, history and political aspiration is a new form of depreciation that affect minorities and indigenous communities worldwide. Willful disregard of the majority for the minority is a growing depreciation virus. Forceful assimilation of smaller communities into bigger communities for political leverage amounts to the depreciation of the former. Using power to subjugate and muzzle others depreciates the right to self-determination and freedom of speech. In a democratic set-up, the role of the opposition is pivotal to proper governance but purposely ignoring the voices of the opposition amounts to the depreciation of the ‘role of opposition’ and the reign of dictatorship.
Reverse depreciation
Appreciation can be verbal or non-verbal. Appreciation does not mean a person or party has no flaws, but it is a conscious effort to acknowledge the good amongst the not-so-good things of life. It is a way of seeing others as good people or potentially good. Philippians 2:3-4 reads, ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others’. Bhagavat Gita 3:20-21 says, ‘By performing their prescribed duties, King Janak and others attained perfection. You should also perform your duties to set an example for the good of the world. Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues’. One of our ‘worldly duties’ is to appreciate the good in others and oneself so that it becomes an example for the world to follow. Timely appreciation comes as a reinforcement to continue doing good.
Critical evaluation is a must in a company’s growth trajectory. Criticism is a must for scholarly progress but not total depreciation. In a normal context, depreciation is a discouragement while appreciation is a boost for betterment. If the views or works of the majority are always projected to be right and the minority is always wrong, then there is something ‘wrong’. The loudest speaker need not be the best solution, the melodious voice. There is a possibility that innovation, truth and reality can rise from the periphery. While the physical human body undergoes depreciation in terms of wear and tear, the human mind and quality of life can rise in appreciation (worth). Appreciation can balm the ugly truth of human life’s depreciation and fight the growing tendency for purposeful depreciation.
(The author is a PhD research scholar, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Christ University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. Email: paulhowkeep20@gmail.com)

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