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CANING, CHARACTER AND KILLING
The topic arises through the Adelaide Advertiser, June 12, WORLD NEWS concerning events in OKLAHOMA CITY
First, a word of explanation. THIS, you may say, is the giddy limit. Here am I looking for something aptly to be called a joyful jotting, and my eye-balls are impacted by CANING! Is there no justice in the world!
Yes, one can appreciate this reaction; but bear with it. Joy comes later. Meanwhile, let's begin the topic.
Some may say: Caning is violent, violence begets violence and caning is counter-productive in a violent society.
One notices that this sort of remark is not often seen from the same sources when it is a question of the TV conduct, the noxious exposures of mind to murder, explicit, detailed, continual, and to all its ingredients and many of its depths. One does not so often see desire for this to be REMOVED from young eyes.
Even where, as now, effort is being made to LEGISLATE away freedom from the internet (good where it is a matter of preventing the invasion of immaturity by controlled interests for premature purposes, casually or grossly pursued), there is talk of using the SAME sort of restraints as are found in the broadcasting field. In TV, then perhaps ?
Where is there something grosser for child gossamer than this! Do not folly and prurience marry on the screen, so that every sort of indulgence is paraded as if it were an anti-moral crusade, being conducted without even much strategic skill, by the devil himself ? Now it is true, he COULD do worse, but not, one would like to think, very easily. No vileness and violence can readily be imagined as spared, as these follies are splattered on the afflicted minds of the young in enormous quantities, by most available means. One would at least hope that if there is sincere desire for the deliverance of immaturity from exploitative invasion, that there would be no less address to the TV arena.
One would also hope, that just as the Minister in question has denied vociferously that there is any part of limiting freedom of speech in this, his electronic communications law to come, so he would likewise SHOW THAT THIS IS SO in the Law-to-be, or come-to-be; for where freedom to criticise is removed, folly can bloom like a mushroom cloud in the desert.
However, to return to the critical issue: Is it as simple as that - that violence per se is disastrous to the viewer ? Does violence beget violence ? It depends. Does kindness beget indulgence ? It depends. Does courtesy beget folly ? It might, for example if you were courtesy to a mad dog about to tear out your throat.
There is a way to do what is right, and wisdom is part of it. It is no use abstracting one or two philosophical niceties and grinning out some gyration of the mind, instead of looking wisely at all the realities in the case.
Caning did NOT seem to hurt Churchill, except very much, physically. He attests in his autobiographical work, that he had plenty of it. It COULD be said (in the same loosely general way), that caning can instil discipline, prepare for endurance and foster care.
It depends on the depth, character and case of the caning. It depends also not a little on the motives, methods and choice of case on the part of the one administering it. It relates likewise to the PURPOSE. Is it to destroy, or to develop, to indulge the instructor/parent, or to foster beauty ?
In fact, some children nowadays can play games with their parents. I recall a case when this was recognised, but a certain something prevented a simple and adequate discipline at the right time, so that the matter became completely out of control, a rude joke, a foolish waste of time and effort, while a naughty little girl played savvy games at the dinner table, seemingly an exercise through which to gain strength in deviousness, with firm but yielding parents, who would take what it took almost without limit, without seeming meanwhile to be indulgent in TONE: that is, in verbal tone. The indulgence was in action, in what in fact was ... permitted to happen, and keep on happening.
It is to be admitted freely that I personally did not like caning - that is, as recipient; or more accurately, the strap, as it was known. Perhaps it occurred 5 or so times in my life, perhaps a little more, in the age range 7-10: never later. I look back on it with distaste where a bad-tempered and intemperate seeming school-master at a school where I stayed only days, on a holiday with my parents, used a decidedly intimidatory tone and demeanour, a whole sense of malevolence or prison camp seeming to pervade the atmosphere.
However, this distaste was not so if it was a question of talking foolishly, or some minor blemish that was real enough and NOT HUNTED, TOO ZEALOUSLY HUNTED DOWN. Nothing seemed around to condemn the strap, where it was rightly used. While we are on the topic of punishment, one should add a recollection to this day of a MAJOR DETENTION which, I was persuaded, was a misapprehension. The unyielding attitude of the disciplinarian head-master concerned did not impress. It did not lead to anything, since it was but one case. Whether, however, it was one discipline, within reason, or another, the spirit of it was far more important than the method; though at times, a wake-up call might need to be louder than before.
From these admittedly personal, and yet for the insight of thought, provocative cases, I find how the thing influenced me. IF there was no sense of MERE violence, or of the thing being an instrument of VILENESS or injustice; and IF there was no sense of authority SEEKING explosion in discipline, rather than merely administering it wisely and with due restraint, as it were, as an after-thought: then I find it helped.
In other words, discipline, even by direct physical pain, is not PER SE violent. That term, to have much meaning here, should be distinctive. There is a violent use of the cane: it is one where the adminstrator has obvious vindictive joy in it; or where it is an offence against justice, or where it is disproportionate, intimidatory rather than educative, a weak prop for adequate teaching, or where it is not an adjunct to peace and prosperity, but a substitute for it.
Far from true however, is any thought that adequate teaching should not use the cane or strap; for then there may be such loss from the folly of one student, or some who are in some mood, tonality of emotion from extraneous causes, fixity of rejection in some immature mode of what is good, like a child unwilling to take urgently needed medicine, that the wastage is not merely disproportionate for all, but a mellow lesson in the fruits of folly, how rewarding they can be! Students can thus grow accustomed to the rabidity of folly, or the wastage of effort, through the medium of clowning foolery, negotiating strategies or mere exhibitionism, albeit in 'legal' mode, to keep pace with the antics of junior society. We do not really need such lessons, as they are being learned famously without any extra aid, as it is.
Now in society there is so much injustice and intemperance (temperance is one more of those ADDITIONS TO FAITH of which II Peter 1 speaks), that the just and temperate use of a cane may seem hard to find. Actually, one would doubt that it is as bad as that. Nevertheless, the fact is that abuse of drugs, alcohol and self-control, and the whole incitation to violence through its obvious popularity as a substitute for strength of character, and resolve for righteousness (a highly selective thing, of great moral tone and meaning), in what is increasingly a moral vacuum, does make for caution here.
Yet, for all that: Is caution the same as abandonment ? is a thing TOO HARD because it requires some thought, some measure of control and some care to apprehend wrong-doers ? If so, let us cancel car-driving at once.
If not, then let us realise that the South Australian trend away from the use of the cane is not without reason able to be regarded as WHOLLY A DEPARTURE FROM THE CASE IN OKLAHOMA STATE. There, in that area of the US, a LAW is reported ready to be passed (July 1) to advise parents. It is to make it clear and to remind! The reminder seems to be regarded as salutary, and indeed necessary. Thus it appears from the news that the purpose of the law in view, is in essence to show:
1) that the use of the cane in child-training,
outside physical abuse which injures and is disproportionate - is QUITE
2) that it is important for parents to REALISE THIS, so that they do not NEGLECT discipline.
This rather amazing and in the view of this writer, wholly apt declaration from the law-makers is in the light, or rather in the darkness of the events of mass school murders, where the concept of constraint, restraint, righteousness and reason, action and reaction, conduct and result, seems staggeringly in abeyance. Rattish behaviour quite readily can develop from rat-nests; and although these are more suitable for rats, their loose straw can infect humans as well.
The evolutionary disregard for individual life and the accompanying restlessness of hearts which know no base except an illusory one, foisted on them in countless idiotic TV sessions, preaching sermons which show more imagination than reality, about some line up to man through murder and mayhem, and by implication suggesting getting on with the rough stuff is á la mode: these things are constant accelerators. The abdication of morality, as if the facts of life did not indicate clearly enough that we are, or rather have, precision instruments in our bodies, minds, available with due care to our spirits, is another woe to the child and to the youth alike. (Cf. SMR pp. 348ff.).
In this milieu, caning or the strap, is useful if used with restraint, as an indication that dreamland can stop with the viciously misled textbooks on man as a violence product, not product of God, whose care and concern is shown not merely in His astoundingly brilliant, totally man-surpassing engineering and mathematics, in His staggeringly vast array of intricate works of matter and life. It is shown in the provision of His word (see SMR Chs.8-9) and His Son (see SMR Ch.6), whose life is like the sun in the midst of an abysmal darkness, never yielding to any rational criticism. Man is not in a moral vacuum. The way is THERE. Following it is increasingly defunct; yet by no means totally so, for there is, though their percentage may be small, yet an abundant multitude whose hearts are set on Him.
Without Him ? and that is the wholly popular choice: the road to destruction is wide, and it is littered with children, dropped by indulgent, ferocious or timid adults.
There is then a place for discipline, but one best found in the folds of a person who has the lustre of reality and the beauty of life within. It is then that its place is as clear as day.
There is a time for coming to, for regaining a consciousness of what the world is, took and has, and what is required for its destruction, and for doing so, some time before it is destroyed. That time is now (cf. II Corinthians 6:1-2). . Caning has its place. It is a place in a society getting vastly out of place; a society so fashioned in fantasy that caning seems out of place, even when the basis is sound, the method is precise and the spirit is right. THAT is part of the vicious circle of which we spoke in an earlier jotting.
The VIRTUOUS CIRCLE however is available in private schools, except where idiotic nation, State or international provisions prohibit, and instead pre-suppose (if there is any adequate thought at all), a situation so disastrous that their very aims are debased, and their results ? they are all about us.
But now the joy!
First, I can still rejoice at the almost total control in caning (or the strap) used in my own life. THAT is good. Not at all do I regret, overall, its existence. Foolishness - I speak frankly, was not at all foreign to my young and developing nature. It was good that some suitable reminders awakened me to this fact. What a waste of time to have endless lectures when at such times, the thing is so obvious that mere rebuke is most apt!
Secondly, the current dynamism of folly, which decides that young gods, who are no gods at all, MUST have expression (perhaps a pocket nuke will develop for the next school episode ? well, things are being miniaturized! but the thought, though playful*1, is in principle not alien to the point at all), and that they MUST NOT be touched, oh la-la! that can produce joy. HOW can this be so, and how can it do so? How on earth ? In this way: it is a joyful thing that this is still not wholly dominant. Some States are not yet wholly mired in the moral-free ditch! which they in inglorious self-contradiction, deem the MORAL WAY TO GO! How Lewis Carroll would have laughed! and his Alice have wondered at the fantastic ways of her dream...
Thirdly, it is good that this disastrous litany of folly which increasingly is the lot of "society" or that asinine substitute for it, "community" - and where is there less unity! - is not destined to last for ever.
This world has a due date, a use-by appointment, and the return of Jesus Christ is PRECISELY on line, according to all the very numerous indications of this Son of God who said ONLY what is true, has and can never be proven wrong, whose words take hold like a man taking a dog by the scruff of the neck, and the dog is history. The massive failures increasingly being legislated, these won't last for ever. It is a play, a five act play, maybe better, a twenty act play, and it is nearly over, the time on schedule nearly precisely here (cf. Luke 21:29 in chapter context), when the Prince of Peace returns, the Just One (Acts 3:14-15).
The follies are ILLUSTRATIONS of the results of the breach of His principles as He shows in Matthew 24 quite clearly, and Paul in II Timothy 3,6, and Peter in II Peter 2-3; and this is edifying. It is great privilege, in some ways like watching a tennis match at Wimbledon. As you study the game being played before you, you can discern perhaps something of the qualities of character, of play, of strategy, and be quite fascinated by the way it all works out to its due - and perhaps in some cases, almost overdue, end!
Fourthly, it is good to consider the spiritual basis of the restraint, constraint, care and patience shown by so many to oneself, and to others, over the years, in which a tolerance touched by reality, a patience not alien to action and a good will not quick on the draw, nor lax in the face of due provocation, has acted. It is good to reflect on the depth and the grace behind so much of it. This current foolish failure in principle and practice - too much violence of many kinds, and not nearly enough discipline with grace and meaning - highlights the really deep and sound work of so many in the past. It helps one to appreciate what a work of skill and art was done by so many!
CANING CHILDREN is good in moderation, with restraint, with caution, with knowledge, with love, with thoughtfulness, with due regard to other options: but its omission is like a poison pill, a futile gesture that makes the quaint reflection that the children need no physical reminders that touch them to the quick, even relatively readily borne ones, as if they were all good. Alas the case is far otherwise. There is much lovely, and it is much developed by humility and understanding; but the characterisation of the child as too good to touch, too important to restrain by such means, is alas, merely to advance its folly till like Dr Spock, the many begin to cry, Enough!
In fact, the child, like the adult, needs a new and second birth before the reality is accompanied by realisation, and a certain beauty of holiness, albeit not at all perfect, can develop adequately. Meanwhile, restraint with realism is needful; nor does it necessarily vanish, even with the child whose nature is changed.
When however many of our currently misled educators cry of the indulgences and the indulged, with Dr Spock, Enough!, by that time, there may be such violence with which to deal, that it will be far more than enough. Foolish the nation, and misled the generation which idealises without ideals, and tolerates without knowledge. Thus Solomon's dictum to this effect, Spare the rod and spoil the child, taken in the entire Biblical context of restraint, gentleness, bringing up as a child-training operation (cf. Ephesians 6:1-4, which includes, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath"), love and consolation, is a just one. Actually, he said this: "He who spares his rod hates his son; but he who loves him chastens him early" (Proverbs 13:24).
The vagaries of NO FAMILY, as in earlier Communist Russia, NO THOUGHT as in current China in some regards, now added to NO DISCIPLINE cruelly affecting many in this country, are just so many variations on an unoriginal theme, namely this: Forget God and do it your own way.
Of all this, caning's prohibition (or abuse) can figure as merely one illustration;a nd in the present case, it can possess all the oddities and follies of treating children like adult bargainers, and making CONTRACTS formally written out. Making children adults merely delays the event. It is suicidal to reality to outdistance it, like picking mini-buds before the blooms.
So then what ? REJOICE, for you who know the Lord will assuredly NOT be spared the rod of His rule; and for my part, I should FAR rather be caned by the Lord than act as a fool; and where one is headstrong, or misled, it is FAR better to be jolted a little into realisation, than allowed to wallow before one wakes up. I love the Lord, for He is good, and His goodness it to KNOW HIS SHEEP, neither idealising them, nor ruling them harshly. How good to have One with such PROFOUND UNDERSTANDING to fear, as one fears the fire if it falls out of the grate, but far beyond that, to LOVE, Him, as one may love the comfort and beauty of the fire, because it is a wonderful, yes and a beautiful thing!
For a short and disciplined address
on discipline ? See Hebrews 12.
Playful ? Yes, a little. In fact, however, Time magazine not long ago showed in some inglorious detail, the methods and powers in the field of the radioactivity, used by a very zealous youth, whose activities in principle could compromise the life span of many, and that in a slow and not entirely delightful manner. Explosion was perhaps the less dangerous feature of the episode.