Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Huainanzi - Entry 73

Trey Smith

When sternness is overextended, it becomes ferocity; and if you are fierce, you lack gentility.
~ a passage from
The Book of Leadership and Strategy by Thomas Cleary ~
In my time as a child abuse investigator, one of the issues I confronted with some parents is that there is a difference between "physical" discipline and abuse. The former is based on trying to get a specific lesson across and utilizing the least amount of force possible. The latter, on the other hand, tends to be an angry response to a perceived transgression and the level of force is somewhat or completely unrestrained.

In one case, a stepfather beat his developmentally-disabled stepson with a baseball bat because the boy missed the toilet when trying to pee (a common problem, it turns out, due to several of the boy's physical deformities). The man argued that he was trying to get a specific point across: aim better. However, the ferocity of his "discipline" method blotted out the message entirely. All it did was make the young man more nervous and anxious each time he needed to go to the bathroom and his "nervousness" made the outcome his stepfather didn't desire far more likely!

To read the introduction to this ongoing series, go here.

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