Monday, September 12, 2005

decisive attitudes

in common with most people I know, I have been trying to bring up my twin sons to understand that violent behaviour is a form of sickness, and that violent people can be helped to change their behaviour.

now, at thirteen, they seem to be developing into quite big, strong fellows - quite capable of humiliating several of my friends foolish enough to challenge them at arm-wrestling (not me, not quite, not yet), and well on their way to being able, as they say, to take care of themselves - and I find myself beginning to wonder if I oughtn't to lighten up a little on an issue which, to them, clearly isn't an issue.

I say this because I'm beginning to have to accept that, thanks in large part to the miserable failures of the dominant culture and its cringing satellites in curbing the excesses of inequality that are now hopelessly endemic in the social structures of the so-called developed world, the notion that might is right is the indisputable norm of political, and therefore social persuasion. Gandhi (shanti, shanti, shanti) would get short shrift if he sat down in front of an advancing platoon of American or Israeli soldiers these days.

from the school playground to the White House, the bully's day is right here, right now - having taken all the advantage he can muster from the well-meaning liberal tolerances which have failed to deter him.

if and when it happens that one of my boys takes on one of the grunting psychopaths that all schools have to tolerate and gives him the kicking of his miserable, un-boundaried, parenting-impoverished life, I doubt if I shall do more than go through the motions of tut-tutting in the head's office at the subsequent enquiry - the same cynical nod at compliance that she herself learnt in the damage-limitation module of schools management, her proficiency in which she has already demonstrated by bringing two boys together in her office - one aged twelve, five foot, a hundred pounds, his persistent tormentor aged fifteen, six-foot, one-eighty pounds - to 'shake hands,' thereby having implemented, on the record, the school's decisive attitude towards such behaviour.

I recall no-one shedding any tears when one particular psycho at my own school was given the 'surprise selection' treatment - ie he, despite having never demonstrated any team aptitude whatsoever, was 'selected' (he had no choice in the matter) for inclusion in a house rugby match, during which fifteen of the school's finest - all perfectly aware of his reputation - legitimately grounded and battered, kicked, choked, elbowed, kneed, and generally mauled him at every opportunity for one of the longest and most painful hours of his violent existence - with a large, knowing crowd having assembled to add humiliation to (superficial) injury.

antisocial behaviour can be modified pacifically, given the will, and sufficient resources to repair and recover the backstory damage that promotes it. I seriously wonder, however, if the will is there, other than at the individual level of those few saints upon whom society seems eternally to rely as moral arbiters. meanwhile, I shan't stand in the way of my own sons meting out such summary discouragement as they might consider appropriate to such malcontents as enjoy beating up kids who are half their size.

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