The Children of the Empire deal with desires good and bad

The Children of the Empire deal with desires good and bad

Desire is the feeling of wanting to have or do something. It motivates behaviour. In contrast to general motives or likes, desires are “about” specific objects or people. Desires can be good and healthy leading to positive life changing actions; or they could be unhealthy and unwholesome.

I could like to have a couture dress – but I don’t necessarily desire it sufficiently to spend hundreds of dollars on it or make the sacrifice of foregoing something else to get it. On the other hand, I could have a strong desire to be a medical practitioner and spend a lot more time and money studying to get there. But again, there are some desires that I may never fulfil, whatever I do – or sacrifice. I will never be a ballerina!

Some desires are strong and make us really ‘want’ something. Others can be recognised and ignored. If I feel strongly enough that I need the couture dress I would ‘want’ it enough to make the sacrifice to buy it.

Whether a given desire turns into a temptation, and thus enters the sphere of self-control, depends on whether the behaviour implied by the desire conflicts with a person’s values or self-regulatory goals. Using the same example: I know that I don’t ‘need’ the couture dress. And I know that the money I spend on it is much better spent on other thing – BUT I soooo want it! I am tempted against my better judgement.

Can I express the self-control to resist the temptation? Or will I do whatever needed to get it?

What makes us desire what we desire? Some come from our childhood scripts. Others from our teenage and adult learning that wires our brain to recognise things as pleasurable or painful.

In ‘Empires Children’ we see desire for a range experiences and life experiences. From power to passion. From a desire for freedom, a better life to a desire for atonement for the sins of past generations.

Shiromi as a child desires to break away from the expectations of her family and culture (chapter 1,4).

“She (Shiro) didn’t want to be patient, or forbearing or anything else that her mother pointed out as womanly virtues. She didn’t want to be like her mother. She wanted to be free. To travel to places where people didn’t care whether you were Tamil or Sinhalese, British, Sri Lankan or Indian. She would make it happen – when she grew up.”

And yet – as an adult, how do the scripts she learnt from her parents about the British affect her relationships? And her wish for revenge?

You have to read the book to find out!