‘Dirt is good’ is a popular slogan of a well-known brand these days. How bad the impact is on young minds is not a cause of concern to the television channels. The media is reinforcing the message that children who, due to their carelessness, get their clothes dirty must not feel guilty about it, because if they do, they will never learn. How ironic the statement seems? Dirt and learning together? Education helps to purify your thoughts and cleanses your soul; however, if the way to explore the world is associated with ‘how-dirty-you-can-get’ slogans, how can children be expected to become responsible and cultured citizens of tomorrow? And how can education make them remove all dirt from their hearts?
Apart from the countless cartoons which show violence without pain and endorse dirty surroundings as elements of fun and enjoyment, the media has reversed the concepts of good and bad.
Dirt is of various forms. Besides visible dirt, there is the impurity of mind, heart and soul. Media is a manipulator of the mind, and children are the worst hit victims because of their impressionable age. Media depicts how a person can get away with any kind of wrong activity by just using a particular product. It shows how ‘the hero’ can do away with any evil deed through the act of spreading goodness. Moreover, it associates the cool image of a popular kid with irresponsibility, dirtiness and bad values.
Taharah promotes cleanliness of body, mind and soul. Keeping your heart free of malice, your mind from bad thoughts and your soul from all impurities is the true concept of Taharah.
How can parents combat these wrong perceptions inculcated through media? First of all, one must be able to differentiate between these messages and educate their child about the true concept of Taharah. Make your child feel uncomfortable with dirt and let him/her identify that learning is fun, but it can always take place without messing around. Play with them and help them organize and keep things in order. Discipline in early life will go a long way in ensuring your child’s mental and social upbringing.
Secondly, spread the word by action. When you are eating outdoors or in a public setting, keep an eye on your own behaviour. Are you the one throwing wrappers around? If you initiate one wrong act, know that there are many who will follow you. Locate a dustbin or if it is not there, keep the wrappers in your handbag for the time being. Those around you will learn that cleanliness is important to you.
“We should always identify and criticize wrong ideas that are promoted through the media, while watching TV together as a family, so that the young ones realize that the message is wrong,” says Saima, a housewife. With this approach, we can thwart the wrong perceptions that the media generates and enable our future generation to distinguish the good from the bad, before the media teaches them to see it the other way round.