Oliver Twist, Fagin, And Others

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I was fortunate to attend a seminar on child friendly policing initiatives, with other stakeholders working on the issue.

The seminar started with a theatrical performance.The group of young boys who performed  a powerful play about caring for every child, were erstwhile juvenile delinquents who had been successfully rehabilitated.

They were orphans who had been forced into  petty crime for survival- lucky enough to have met good police officers, good NGOs, good human beings…The results were before us. One was the school topper, another the swimming champion, the next was going to give a TeD Talk! The play itself, all song and emotion- was a cry to help others like them out there; without prejudice.

I thought then of pampered children, over cosseted and over adored, brought up to believe that they were so entitled in life that the world existed to serve them. We read of them often enough in newspapers- for the wrong reasons.

Both are children- the first  lot  who are denied chances totally- pushed into labour and crime for survival,  and lucky if there is an escape route like the young performers; the second lot that I see daily, overwhelmed with life’s best opportunities yet brought up to seek only self centred pleasures.

Of course, the system perpetuates itself -invariably leading to the creation of more children of the first lot. The cycle continues, smirking malignantly.

**

I heard about a young child, porn addict at the age of twelve, his parents terrified of him. He has four servants at his service and his poor mother is terrorised by him .Whatever they are trying to do to help him, is only serving to keep his devilish side happy. He throws tantrums if anyone touches his iPad.He hits people.He gets away with it all.

So early in life, he has decided that he is  very much entitled to be bad. Bad means, all perversions and pleasures are obtained! Not bad, eh?

Furious, I asked the acquaintance, of why the parents had not sought professional help and got rid of the instruments of addiction. Apparently, they were scared .

Scared of being found out? Scared that in the eyes of society, they have a child who requires to be corrected with discipline? Scared of their own child? So scared that they were buying silence by overindulging a budding criminal?

**

“Certain situations are like facing snakes unexpectedly,” said the speaker, “snakes are scary because humankind has not mastered the art of taming them.” As we gazed with wonderment, he continued, “A dog, even if potentially more dangerous, we are not afraid of, because we have a history of taming their kind.”

“If the situation triggers an inherent repulsion-unless we learn to think beyond the obvious reactions, we will not be able to adopt new approaches. Fear will paralyse us- prevent us from taking any step for bettering the existing circumstances.”

It made sense, of course. I thought of the kind police officer, sensitive enough to trust, and see a potential school topper in the shivering child who stood in front of him.  He sees the innocent Oliver Twist, used by a ruthless Fagin.

The first words of kindness are uttered , paving way for  a change. The counsellor who guides, the NGO who helps, the school which enrolls him…the network of good acts to empower and help the child trust his own potential.

I wonder then on the cure for over indulgence. The loving nurture of budding criminals in many homes- over cosseted, over loved, over protected, allowed freely to be self indulgent, to be self centred, to seek riches and pleasures  and to broadcast it all- with exclusive focus!

We reap what we sow. The season for planting and pruning and watering and adding fertiliser is so short and precious. Done the right way, even the most dried up and deprived plants thrive to be fruitful. And if overdone, the most promising young plant will degrade, decay and stink fast. ‘Lilies that fester, smell far worse than weeds.’

Charity, indeed, begins at home.

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