Gibran On Children

Suffer the little children #

Jesus Christ said:

Whoever makes himself as little as a child, he’s the one who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And anyone who welcomes one little kid like this one, in my name, also welcomes me.

“But if anyone is the downfall of one of these little kids who believes in me, it were better for him that he drowned in the deep of the sea with a great millstone tied round his neck.” (Matt 18:6)

It may not be definitive, but there are national stereotypes of how we raise children. The Africans have a saying:

“that it takes a whole villiage to raise a child."

Unfortunately, it also takes a whole country to allow the sytematic abuse of children.

How does Australia rate?

British attitude to children #

Many children grew up in emotionally deprived environments, leading to an austere and callous disposition. Especially the well off would send them to boarding schools at the early age of seven.

See also parenting:

William Blake #

William Blake was never sent to school, so he was a child of nature. He commented;

Thank God, I was never sent to school, to be flogged into the style of a fool.

Blake advocated strongly for chimney sweepers, children who started as young as three and were old men by the time they were seven.

“He who shall hurt the little wren
Shall never be beloved by men.

William Wordsworth’s The Preludes traces the history of Wordsworth’s life from his earliest childhood describing the innocent beauty of the untainted perspective of youth.

Coleridge, in his poem Frost, evocatively expresses his home sickness and loneliness.

While education is one of Coleridge’s great concerns, his own trauma is expressed by pejoratives, stern preceptor and “In the great city, pent’ mid cloisters dim”, evoking the lonely homesick emotions he suffered at boarding school in the city.

In his Lecture on Education he stressed.

”To work by Love, and so generate love. To strive for accuracy, truth and imagination. Little is taught by contest or dispute; everything by sympathy and love”.

Charles Dickens #

Great Expectations assumed to be partly biographical depicts how children are mistreated.

Pip begins life as an orphan, (as do Joe and Magwitch) predeceased by his Father, Mother and five infant brothers, alone and isolated with only a grudging older sister and her more gentle husband to care for him.

“home had never been a pleasant place for me, because of my sister’s temper” (100)

It is only Joe and his forge that provides it with more of a haven, refuge or sanctuary from the outside world. Though Pip is well fed and physically maintained, he is emotionally starved through Mrs Joe’s domestic tyranny. He is a reject - emotionally crippled.

His sister makes it quite clear that she doesn’t like him:

“I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born” (20)

“I think my sister must have the general idea that I was a young offender….to be dealt with according to the outraged majesty of the law”. (20)

“I had known from the time I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me…..I had nursed this assurance … a solitary and unprotected way, ….I was morally timid and very sensitive.” (57-58).

His helplessness leads to alienation, self-condemnation and self-estrangement. Pip is paralysed by fear and guilt; the fear of Magwitch’s dire warnings and the guilt of stealing from Mr and Mrs Joe. Later it is his mere association with a convict leaves a “stain” on his character increasing his insecurity and self reproachment.

Churchill is a good example, (neither of his parents had much time for him) – he was a lifelong alcoholic depressive, obsessed by violence and motivated in his active military service by an obvious death-wish, and in his command by a relish for killing brown people. By the 1930s his life looked like a chaotic failure.

World War Two was the salvation of him, because it was the only moment in history when the outer world was more violent, deranged and insane than his inner one.

In particular, Prince Charles, a more sensitive figure than his father but whom Philip had nevertheless put through the rigours of Gordonstoun and the Navy, suffered from his father’s no-nonsense approach.

It was Philip who forced Charles to end public speculation and marry Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and, when the marriage ended in divorce, much blame was attached to the exacting way in which the Duke had brought up his eldest son.

The crisis provoked by Diana’s death in 1997 brought criticism of the monarchy out into the open, but the Duke played an important part in planning the funeral that went a long way towards rebuilding public trust.

The Prophet - Kahlil Gibran #

And a woman who held a babe against her
bosom said, Speak to us of Children.

And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the Archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran Lebanese American poet (1883 – 1931)