‘Only love, even when it is tough breaks a ‘tough’ child. How do I define tough love here? It is the commitment of the custodians to take sacrificial actions which may not be convenient for the child and the custodians and may not be fully understood by the child but is carefully conceived and rooted in the preservation of the dignity of the child and the hope for positive change. Prejudice is a death warrant to the soul of the child. It is a conclusion, which does not give room to the capacity of the child to change.’
Please join me today as I share with you the 24th core habit of a purposeful, disciplined and effective disciplinarian: No room for prejudice
What is prejudice? It means narrow-mindedness, intolerance, injustice, unfairness. It is for all intents and purposes evil, unproductive and destructive. Discrimination, racism and class oppression are all vibrant brainchildren of prejudice.
Our world has lost prohibitively to the evil of prejudice. When I say our world, I refer to our individual, private and public lives. Many are lives, which have been claimed by prejudice. Many are meaningful and fruitful relationships that could not be struck as a result of prejudice. Bright destinies of individuals, families, corporations, nations and continents have been lost to the venom of prejudice. Or what do we think was the real cause of the pogrom of the Second World War, the segregation in the United States of America for which Martin Luther King Junior gave his life, the dehumanising injustice of apartheid in South Africa, the genocide in Rwanda and the most recent infamous activities of different terrorist groups, who are committed to forcing their persuasions on our world?
As much havoc as prejudice has caused our world, unfortunately, the world is yet to learn its lessons. This is one area where most of us have become the addressees of George Bernard Shaw’s lamentation that ‘The lesson of history is that we don’t learn the lessons of history.’ Shaw found corroboration in the words of Aldous Huxley when he submitted, ‘that men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach” The result is clear. ‘Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,’ says Sir Winston Churchill.
My mission here today is not necessarily to convince the world about the evil of prejudice and to get us to learn from history. Though, I would have loved to do that, but I think it is wise for me to focus my energy on the number one brewing ground of prejudice. My mission here is focus on the family, where all the seeds of prejudice are sown either by direct abuse on the child or the children being treated by the custodians with prejudice. I hope we know that the likes of Adolf Hitler and his fellow criminals against humanity were raised in families. The seeds of prejudice were sown in their lives in their homes. Some of them were subjected to outright abuse while some were tagged and treated with prejudice.
I hope we know that when a child is abused, he grows up to become and angry adult. One of the major attributes of anger is bitterness. Bitterness breeds intolerance. Intolerance is the ever effective fuel which helps prejudice to ravage a mind. Please note that the more peaceful a man is, the larger his heart is going to be and the more accommodating and receptive to other people’s ideas he is going to be. But an angry mind is closed and embraces any means that will help him give the world a taste of his bitterness.
Having addressed how child abuse leads to prejudice, I will like to focus the rest of my attention to how tagging and treating a child with prejudice ends up giving to our world the undeserving gift of prejudiced adults. I mean when children become prejudiced in life because they were treated with prejudice by their custodians. It is important to note here that one major source of prejudice is the experience of prejudice. Many custodians today treat the child with prejudice in the name of instilling discipline.
This is how it works. A child is tagged stubborn by the custodians because of his/her consistent records of disobedience. The custodians begin to relate with the child from premeditated responses. The written conclusion of the custodians is that the child is irredeemable and can never do right. It is so bad that if something goes wrong and the custodians are not able to find those behind it, they will automatically conclude it is the child tagged, stubborn. In fact the custodians, in most cases will not make any efforts to investigate a matter before they point accusing fingers to the child christened, stubborn. He is permanently guilty. He is guilty by the premeditated judgment of the custodians.
Such was my story when I was in the primary school. I was named the devil by my teacher when I was age 9 in Primary 3, when I lost a friend during our tree climbing game. By the time the name gained ground, I had become labelled. One day, I was in front of my class playing with sand when female pupils stood in front of me and pointed me to a teacher and said, ‘he is the one.’ Without asking me any question, the teacher bundled me to the staff room and gave me the canning of my life. Till today, I did not know what I did wrong. All I know is that I never had any trouble with anybody on that day, not even in my dreams or nightmares.
The other way prejudices plays out is that a child, who is considered stubborn, gets stiffer chastisement than his/her generally obedient counterpart. At that point the child knows that it is not his wrong that is being chastised for but for his person. The custodians have equated the child with his/her wrong. The implication is that the child must act wrong. He must produce after his/her kind. He must answer the name he/she has been called by the prejudiced custodian.
What is if the stiffer chastisement is to break the child? Good question. I must say that prejudice is a tool of dehumanisation. Dehumanisation does not break anyone, including a child. It hardens him/her. It robs the child of his/her humanity. Only love, even when it is tough breaks a ‘tough’ child. How do I define tough love here? It is the commitment of the custodians to take sacrificial actions which may not be convenient for the child and the custodians and may not be fully understood by the child but is carefully conceived and rooted in the preservation of the dignity of the child and the hope for positive change. Prejudice is a death warrant to the soul of the child. It is a conclusion, which does not give room to the capacity of the child to change.
Prejudice closes the door against repentance and turn around on the side of the child. It gets the child to make up his mind to live according to the belief of the custodians. When the child senses this he/she gives up on himself/herself and signs up for the conclusion of the prejudice, which in real terms is nothing but a myth predicated on the incomplete experiences of the custodians. The truth is that with the right coach, change is an ever present possibility for any living soul, who is inspired to take responsibility.
The story was told of a boy, who was christened stubborn by the custodians in a school. He was brought to the staff room by a classmate. As his teacher sighted him, he stood from his table and shouted, ‘you again? Didn’t I tell you I don’t want to see you in this staff room again for the rest of this term? You are in hot soup for being brought here again.’ As he approached to the child, the classmate, who brought him, said to the teacher, ‘he is seriously ill. He has been vomiting. I brought him so that he could be granted permission to go home.’ One would have thought the teacher would eat the humble pie, apologise accordingly and release the child to go home. The teacher responded, ‘why wouldn’t he be sick, when he is too stubborn.’ The child at that point burst into tears and so was his classmate. Yet the teacher did not bat an eyelid, he just walked back to his table, scribbled the permission and gave it to the child.
Please note that it may be necessary to take into consideration the history of a child’s disobedience in dealing with a fresh case. I however believe that such consideration must not lead the custodians to deny the child the open-mindedness that is required to give the child justice. Custodians must have the discipline and maturity to dispassionately look at every issue on its own merit without prejudiced generalisation.
Please note that since the child learns through observation, he/she learns prejudice from the treatment he or she receives from his/her custodians.
In conclusion, I must address the issue of tagging a child stubborn. I will like to say that the roots of what we call stubbornness are discussed as follows: The instability of the custodians to provide leadership to the child. It is important to note that a child has five basic needs and the number one is that a child needs someone to believe. The second cause is that the child is when the custodians because of their lack of knowledge of child development become agitated for what is normal. The third source is when the child is following the footsteps of the custodians. I guess the point I man trying to make is that the child’s stubbornness is directly traceable to the doorstep of the custodians. My story earlier told also teaches me that in some cases the tagging of the child stubborn or notorious may be a pure but pathetic product of the imbalance and error of judgement of the custodian. The issue is I was named the devil by my teacher not because of my records of disobedience but because of something I did not do. My undoing was that I was with a friend when he fell from a tree and died. The foundation of my labelling was wrong accusation and I had to carry the cross dutifully though painfully for many years. It is so sad. Give every child a chance to change. Stay INSPIRED.
Think the child…Think Today…Think Tomorrow…
POINT 2 PONDER:
‘Please note that since the child learns through observation, he/she learns prejudice from the treatment he or she receives from his/her custodians.’
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