NOT LA-LA LAND: If we think hard enough, and are honest, we’ll see why many deserve the rod
A WISE and wizened traveller comes upon a land fair and friendly, but greatly troubled by an illness of misconduct in its institutions of "learning".
He enquires of its citizenry at a town hall, and is told the lords take counsel every now and again, and deliberate at length, yet cannot claim a remedy acceptable to all.
Some in the hall favour the cane and the pain which is its venom, for in this way were they brought up and much good has come from the lacerations of the soul and skin.
But clever men and those schooled in the science of the mind, of which many are there, think little good and much ruin will come from the rod. To the traveller, they say, "it is barbarous, and has no place among men who call themselves civilised".
And then charlatans come about these rival assemblies, and add their weight to one side or the other, as is convenient. The discerning visitor notes that their numbers are not few, and wonders if this society is not disproportionately supplied in intellect and idiocy.
Now, even as the disputation grows deafening and hearts become harder, the old man strokes his wiry beard and asks, "But what is the nature of these offences that invite such wrathful strokes. Is there no other less painful way to inter indiscipline".
A voice from the first group cries, "Alas, we have tried. But little has come of it. The transgressors cannot be cured with mere words and gentleness, although it is the fashion of many in these times to claim to the contrary".
Swiftly comes the rejoinder from the other side: "Your ways are old ways. We cannot use the cane any more to teach, for it does not. Begone with you."
The traveller is greatly distressed, and asks yet again, "Why punish?"
There falls a hush, and then he is told by one and many as all the tongues in the hall find common cause in shared shame: "They are disrespectful to their teachers and masters and rules. They cuss and shout and expect no reproach."
"They do not do their assignments for they are lazy. Instructions mean nothing and do nothing to change them. Harlots are better."
"Oh, such utterance makes you like the transgressor yourself," says the old man. "But, carry on with your grievances. Only, leave out the foul words."
Thus a citizen continues: "They detest punctuality. How may they learn, how may they truly understand values if they cannot be loyal to the least of things?"
"Fights are not uncommon among them. Ruffians and scalawags they are, bruises and blood and brutes are their bosom companions. Only to a cane... only to its power will they bend as it does when it cuts them, if only for a while," says another with a tremble in his voice.
"Nay! They are miscreants but they are human beings, not animals. Their minds are malformed, but not beyond reform. If they fail, it is because we have failed to teach them!" shouts one of the obviously clever ones from atop a table where he stands.
In this hall of little furniture and many people, of commoners and aristocrats, the traveller takes pause, breathing lightly and waving his staff so that all eyes are set on him.
"From what I hear, you suffer anguish beyond measure at the deeds of your students in your schools. I cannot comprehend this, for whence I come all who study are refined. There is no need for the cane, and little in the way of any other correction."
"I can only say you have quite adeptly deceived yourselves upon your facility in the teaching of young minds."
At these words, a wave of astonishment sweeps and stays upon the faces of the people, for suddenly, they realise that he does not truly understand.
One man steps up to the wise traveller, and this he does say: "Old one, the ills we speak of do not come from our children, but the adults. Us. The institution of fathers and mothers. Of teachers and writers. Of labourers, lawyers and the lords. The experts and the ignoramuses.
"We are the ones who do the wrongs. Things maybe not foul of the law, but wrong nonetheless and make us as indisciplined children."
The traveller wrings his hands and says: "Then the adults must first take courage and cane themselves... let the children be, for their misdeeds, if any, are merely the seeds of your own sins."
By Davis Christy | email@example.com
Source: New Straits Times Columnist 03 June 2012