It was very heartening to see that Dignity was making people think about such topics generally considered taboo in our society and it was doubly delightful to find quite a few people among the seniors approaching this topic with a positive frame of mind.
The discussants (a new word I learnt recently) were Dr. Prakash, a family physician and pain and palliative care specialist and a dignity member and YWCA office bearer Ms. Sundara Gopalan on the “For” team and an Advocate Mr. Raja Narayanan and Ms. Meera Raghavendra Rao, a freelance journalist and blogger on the “Against” team.
Dr. Prakash talked about loneliness and the concomitant problems associated with loneliness that many senior citizens are facing today and how companionship could help keep people happy and stave off illnesses, especially the mental ones.
Ms. Sundara Gopalan spoke from the heart and urged the audience and her fellow panelists to keep their hearts and minds open to possibilities.
The advocate Mr. Raja Narayanan, an experienced orator and humorist, kept the audience in splits with his incisive jokes and anecdotes. Being against the concept of live-in relationships he highlighted legal, cultural and social issues associated with concepts blindly copied from the west.
Ms. Meera similarly emphasized on the social stigma associated with living outside marriage and how this can lead to ostracization of parents and the children.
Finally, we threw the floor open to the audience and it was again heart-warming to note the open-mindedness of most of the people there.
As a moderator and judge, I felt that the “for” team was more forward thinking and coming at the issue from a need-based perspective and were able to clearly highlight the absolute need for companionship and the health benefits of relationships.
The “Against” team worried about what society might think rather than thinking of what is good for oneself.
While Spock has very famously said that “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, I am of the firm believe that the needs of the few far outweigh the prejudices of the many. If all the senior citizens decide to be supportive of those that are open to giving love and companionship another chance, the society will automatically change its attitude(after all, what is society but us?).
Here’s to many more such thought provoking discussions. My sincere thanks to Ms. Aruna Damodharan and Dignity foundation for a wonderful evening and wish them the very best.
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