Reflection time

As an undergraduate architecture student, we had a unit in philosophy 101. One of the lecturers was a very interesting fellow. I still recall him asking us something about why we think we owe our parents anything. It’s a question that no one wants to think about or answer. Most of the answers would have something to do with their begetting us, educating us, loving us which sometimes is not the case for many children.

In the Robbers by Schiller, this question is brought to the fore by Charles, while talking about Francis, his vagabond brother. He asks

A common source of being is to produce community of sentiment; identity of matter, identity of impulse! Then again,—he is thy father! He gave thee life, thou art his flesh and blood—and therefore he must be sacred to thee! Again a most inconsequential deduction! I should like to know why he begot me; certainly not out of love for me—for I must first have existed!
Could he know me before I had being, or did he think of me during my begetting? or did he wish for me at the moment? Did he know what I should be? If so I would not advise him to acknowledge it or I should pay him off for his feat. Am I to be thankful to him that I am a man? As little as I should have had a right to blame him if he had made me a woman. Can I acknowledge an affection which is not based on any personal regard? Could personal regard be present before the existence of its object? In what, then, consists the sacredness of paternity? Is it in the act itself out of which existence arose? as though this were aught else than an animal process to appease animal desires. Or does it lie, perhaps, in the result of this act, which is nothing more after all than one of iron necessity, and which men would gladly dispense with, were it not at the cost of flesh and blood? Do I then owe him thanks for his affection? Why, what is it but a piece of vanity, the besetting sin of the artist who admires his own works, however hideous they may be? Look you, this is the whole juggle, wrapped up in a mystic veil to work on our fears. And shall I, too, be fooled like an infant? Up then! and to thy work manfully. I will root up from my path whatever obstructs my progress towards becoming the master. Master I must be, that I may extort by force what I cannot win by affection.

So I ask, where lies the sacredness of paternity?

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To punish or not to punish

That is the question.

I agree with those who consider beating children as a means to discipline is bad parenting. I saw no difference between kids who were spanked and those who weren’t.

There was spanking both in my primary and high school days. Looking back, the spanking didn’t act as a deterrent. Many times, the spanking made no sense. I remember in high school, we came up with ways to cheat the teachers.

Those who think spanking is good for character formation should tell us why in the comments section.

In Tyranny of god, Joseph Lewis writes

The child is brought into this world from the insuppressible passion of two people, and surely without its consent, and it is absolute tyranny and barbarity to torment its mind or to punish its body, regardless of the result its action may have upon us.

To the little children that have suffered the horrible punishment so generally followed in that cruel and false book—the Bible—my heart goes out in pity, since words fail me to describe those savage characters that visit inhuman, tormenting and torturous treatment upon their unwelcome offspring.

If we were forced to perform the thousand tyrannies that are directed against the child during the day by cruel and thoughtless parents, the lunatic asylum would soon be our place of refuge. Such trivial things as a spot on the shoe, a speck of dirt upon the clothes, a mere tip of the hat, a slight turn of the scarf often give rise to such violent reprimand, and very often brutal punishment, that the savageness of barbarians is mild compared to such displays of temper.

My heart again goes out to you, little children, when and wherever you are, that must bear the brunt of brutal actions from stupid and thoughtless parents and guardians. These people seem to classify children in the matter of discipline as grown ups, thinking(or, rather, not thinking) that children’s undeveloped minds should be as strong as theirs, when they themselves are unable to practice the self-denial that they expect from mere infants.

How often does a child receive a slap in the face from a parent for the asking of only a simple question, when the parent is not in the “humor” to “bother” with him?

What a painful and terrifying beating does a child often get for disobeying some arbitrary command uttered by the one over him. To the child, “Don’t do this,” “Don’t go there,” “Stand up straight,” and “Say this” are commands that carry with them court martial and its severe and unrelenting punishment.

he also says, and I agree

Prayers are only wasted words on the desert air. The greatest mental crime ever committed is that of teaching a child, “while still upon its mother’s knee,” its duty and obedience to God. It would appear that for the amount of suffering it must endure, and in the face of its unconsulted coming, we should at least disregard God for his insolence, and impress upon the child the peculiar conditions of life. We should instruct it, that from time immemorial, Nature has been laboring through the most awkward process of reproduction, and has finally brought the child into existence, not to enjoy the benefits, or eat of the fruits of the earth, but to bear a life of continual strife and suffering. Not of God should we speak to our child, but of the importance of being prepared to do all in its power to help others to escape the torture, misery and hardships it must so painfully overcome. Is it any wonder that we grow up to be serfs and slaves? Before we are able to know or understand the very rudest fundamentals of life, our entire mental machinery is corrupted by unshakable fears and dedicated to the vilest and most sickening submission. Would that we were left alone, and free to follow the thoughts of our own minds, regarding the great problems of life. What a mighty, unhampered power we would possess to find the proper course of action, and possibly the real solution to the mystery of the Tyranny of God!

God

This joke is too good not to share.

The little boy was found by his mother with pencil and paper, making a sketch. When asked what he was doing, he answered promptly, and with considerable pride:
I am drawing a picture of god
But, gasped the shocked mother, you cannot do that. No one has seen god. No one knows how god looks.
Well, the little boy replied, complacently, when I get through they will

Man neither born religious nor deistical

My friend JZ wrote a while ago that every child is born an atheist and some theists objected to this claim.

Today while I was going through one of my books I came across this gem by Jean Meslier.

All religious principles are founded upon the idea of a God, but it is impossible for men to have true ideas of a being who does not act upon any one of their senses. All our ideas are but pictures of objects which strike us. What can the idea of God represent to us when it is evidently an idea without an object? Is not such an idea as impossible as an effect without a cause? An idea without a prototype, is it  anything but a chimera? Some theologians, however, assure us that the idea of God is innate, or that men have this idea from the time of their birth. Every principle is a judgment; all judgment is the effect of experience; experience is not acquired but by the exercise of the senses: from which it follows that religious principles are drawn from nothing, and are not innate.