|Words and photo by F LoBuono|
"Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding". Gandhi
A video has been posted that caught my eye, and my ire. It's a security camera video of two, young black children inside of a classroom of some sort. The boy must be about 8 or 9 years-old and the girl about 4 or 5. It shows the young boy rather aggressively dragging his little sister around the classroom. He shakes her. He yells at her. In general, he is quite abusive. He has, obviously, lost all patience with her. But, at the same time, there are a few frames of video where he rubs her back and comforts her. It gives no context as to why the behavior took place.
The response to the video was what shocked me. The vitriol hurled at that young man was vicious. "If he were my child, he would be beaten without mercy", said one. Another man wanted to "rip his rectum out through his throat - there are NO excuses for this type of behavior". He was called "a piece of shit" - an 8 or 9 year-old boy . . .
OK. Here we go. First, that boy is a CHILD!!!! He is only 8 or 9. The last time that I checked, we do not treat children as adults. We do not hold them to the same standards because they don't have the same level of understanding of right and wrong that an adult does. We must teach them that over the course of time. We do not execute them and we certainly don't "rip their rectums out through their mouths"! He is only mimicking what he has been taught. And, it's obvious that he has been TAUGHT that violence is a way to resolve conflict. He learned it somewhere. And it is entirely reasonable to assume that he learned it from an adult. So, with that in mind, to what end will beating the "sense" into him serve? It will produce NOTHING but more violence. Violence only begets more violence.
Second, and people, answer this honestly, how many of you have blown your cool to the point where you may have lost your mind and gotten just a little too physical with a child or pet? I know that I have. And I have regretted it. Remember, there is NO CONTEXT to the video. We don't know what preceded this incident that caused the boy to react this way. Give him a break!!
Third, what is it that we are looking to teach that child (actually BOTH, since both were impacted by the behavior)? We see that, despite his aggressive behavior, the boy must care for his sister. This is evidenced by the moments he actually comforts her. It seems that he WANTS her to behave and bend to his will (remember, NO CONTEXT). He is not an unfeeling "beast" or, as some suggested, "just a bad kid". Really? How dare you make such a statement. You don't know that boy! You don't know his background! You don't know anything about him - there is no context!! Therefore, to suggest that he is "just bad" and that there is "no excuse for that type of behavior" is extraordinarily naive. That would be no different from me assuming that just because you posted something in opposition to my point of view and that, perhaps, because you made a snide remark, it makes you a "bad person". I don't know you and you don't know me. Therefore, don't assume. Period.
Should we beat him more to teach him that beating someone is wrong? This makes sense to people? How? Gandhi, the great peacemaker, also said that an eye for an eye just leaves the whole world blind. So, are we to beat this kid blind?? Or, rather, do we use it as an opportunity to teach - to teach that only love can conquer hate. Love is much more powerful than hate. If we have the strength to love unconditionally we will teach him to conquer his fear and his anger. We can make him stronger, better. Or, we can beat him into submission so that he repeats this behavior over and over again - so that the cycle of violence is NEVER broken. His son will beat his sister who will beat her daughter, and so on and so on.
There is a choice here and it is yours. . .