Archive for March 25th, 2012
We need to know how the problem people in our life got that way. It was not the television violence, or the peer pressure. It was not the breakup of the family. Other kids experience these same influences and grow up to be productive, self-respecting human beings in spite of them. The difference may be that their parents had real intentions and set an example of self-respect for them to see and follow.
The children who create problems for themselves and others, in most cases, had unself-respecting parents whose good intentions robbed them of their native self-respect and replaced it with self-contempt. These children are predisposed to behave in ways that are consistent with their self-contempt. Taking relevant advice against drug abuse and other dangers would be inconsistent. We say that such people are allergic to happiness and success. They don’t deserve it. They are worthy only to self-destruct, and that’s what they do. They are teaching morality as they were taught by their parents, as if morality meant doing right things and not doing wrong things for fear of punishment. That is not morality; it is anxiety.
Wrongness is often in the eye of the beholder. For example, some parents imagine it is right for them to torment their children for perpetrating such wrongnesses as not eating their vegetables, pooping in their pants, not shaking hands with spooky old Uncle Charles, or having a mind of their own. Such parents are not moral. They are suffering from their mistaken attitudes towards morality. They only imagine they know what moral conduct is and how to achieve it. It is absurdity.
The goal of these parents’ good intention is not to teach their children how to live a good life, which is the true goal of moral teaching. These parents’ goals are:
• To keep the children from suffering the consequences of doing a wrong thing, and
• To avoid the painful guilt they would suffer if their children were to stray from the straight and narrow. “What would the neighbors think!”
This is not living. This is preventing, which is a negative ambition and a destructive good intention. If the ambition is negative, the outcome cannot be positive. The children will fall into sin and the parents will say, “I knew it would happen. We did everything for that child.”
Such parents may have learned their morality from brutal fathers, who in turn learned it from their fathers. It was handed down from generation to generation with the best of intentions, but its not morality. It never was. It is overcompensation for feelings of worthlessness, specifically, moral worthlessness, or guilt.
Self-respecting people have different, more appropriate attitudes towards right and wrong. They are not good out of terror. They are good because it is appropriate. Positive behavior makes their lives less complicated and less rageful. They are good unto others as they would have others be good unto them. That is not a good intention; that is a real intention. That is how a civilized society works. On those occasions when the other person is not good to them in return, self-respecting people do not take it personally. They do not feel betrayed or become discouraged. They do not lapse into vengeful barbarism. They do not feel that their goodness was all for nothing. They manage their anger appropriately, like civilized human beings. Such people have fewer crises and disasters. They like it that way.
They also know that morality is not taught with a belt. It is taught by example. They solve parenting problems by making a distinction between the act and the actor, namely, their beloved child. They can be angry at the deed without blaming the doer for being less than perfect. They respect their child as they respect themselves, in spite of his human faults and imperfections. Children will never learn to respect their parents if the parents do not respect themselves, and the children can often tell when they do not.
Children who feel respected acquire appropriate attitudes toward themselves, towards others and towards life. In this perspective, wrongness is not the end of the world. It is merely a consequence of human imperfection. They do not feel guilty of a crime. The situation is merely regrettable and they will make the necessary amends. They can learn from their mistakes. They are worthwhile in spite of them.
Our children cannot live with crippling guilt. They can only die after an existence filled with useless mischief. In the meantime, they are not growing into well-rounded adults. They are merely existing. People cannot really live their lives fully in the present without appropriate respect for themselves and others.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )