Do you have a middle-class mentality?
Recently, I came across a statement of Abhishek Bachchan expressing his keenness to bring up his daughter Aaradhya “as normally as possible” since he too was raised with middle-class values by his own parents.
This is not the first time that I have heard such a refrain. “Middle-class upbringing” has become a catchphrase that is used many-a-times.
So what is this theory of ‘middle-class values’ all about? Well, the easy answer is that over the years, people have come to tag a certain set of values with different classes existing in the society. The middle-class is clearly associated with modesty, grounded attitude, and a ‘normal’ upbringing minus the immoderation that the upper class is defined by. They are known for their high morals, for their hard work, and the position that they have created in the society with their own effort.
On the other hand, the ‘poor’ upper class is categorised as snobbish, spendthrift and a vanity addict. And if that was not enough, the ‘higher class’ is also slammed for nepotism. Here is a real life example to prove it. A friend of mine narrated to me her story on the issues she faced while growing up in a London suburb. Born to a well-to-do family, Sahiba (name changed) had a lot of privileges over her middle-class college friends. In western countries, students usually earn money by working part time to pay for their college fee and other expenses and even try hard to attain scholarships as higher education is expensive. In Sahiba’s case, her parents paid her college fee so that she could direct her energy towards her academics while her peers struggled to pay-off their college dues every month. Sahiba was ‘guilty’ of having it easy while her friends were ‘jealous’ of her for the same reason. Despite the fact that Sahiba slogged to earn a good rank in college and preferred to pay her living expenses from her own pocket, her so-called middle class friends overlooked this fact and stuck to their false belief that she was spoon-fed. Worse, when she bagged a good job (on her own merit), her friends even acted bitter about it by alleging that her “powerful” parents used their connections to land her the plush job!
While there is no denying the fact that, coming from the upper class means dabbling with enviable perks, it does not imply that this class is all about flying business class, European holidays, kitty parties at 5 star hotels etcetera. And there are exceptions to prove it. One person I could recall here is Lt. Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur who did all she could, during her lifetime, to uplift the stature of women in her society and weed out the issues faced by girls and married women alike. This is just one example but there are numerous upper class people like her who enjoy the benefits of their rank and also put them to use for some good cause.
I am not trying to glorify the upper classes or de-mean the middle class. What I am trying to say is that these days terms such as “middle class values” have become a cliché and those belonging to the middle strata get an excuse to (pretend to) act righteous simply by the virtue of their ‘modest’ upbringing. Ironically, it is assumed that the higher one goes, the lower one’s value system tends to be. Now, can that be called fair?
The debate of upper class refinement vs middle-class values will continue for generations to come unless we change our social outlook. And by that, I clearly mean to say that more than any one, we are human beings first and foremost. So instead of egoistically boasting about one’s class values, the society at large should try and cultivate a common set of values which will directly help a person evolving into a better individual and indirectly help the communities and classes unite for common good!