I read a report in the newspaper today about a 16 year old boy, D., who was convicted of robbery & given a 5 year jail sentence with 24 strokes of the cane (which is the maximum allowable). He had previously been sent to a juvenile facility for “reformative training”. D. himself shouted at the judge during his trial, threatening him & saying that this training was useless & that he should be sent to jail instead.
At first glance, the picture of this boy shows a typical face of a teenager. But look closely at his eyes & you see the vacuous expression, almost bereft of emotion. Who was it that said, “The eyes are windows into the soul”? How true.
This boy (yes, I consider him a child) is only 2 years older than my elder son. He started off in life with less than desirable circumstances - parents divorced, with dad apparently abandoning the family when he was just an infant. He is supposedly of below average intelligence as well – he has been faced with so many disadvantages in life already, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised with the outcome.
We are the result of our life experiences. As individual beings, we start off as a mass of organic material, with certain genetically pre-determined qualities. However, how these “lumps of clay” are shaped & what the end result is, is due to a complex interplay of factors including parental influence, family relationships, environmental push & shove and to a small degree, sheer luck.
Many of our neuroses stem from these factors. Whether we have been nurtured or battered by these childhood experiences & familial relationships, will determine whether that lump of clay will turn out to be a work of art, or just a rock to be hidden out of sight. I believe that all of us have, to varying degrees, dysfunctional families. If severe, this would express itself as neuroses. I would be the first to admit that I have issues to work out, all stemming from the factors listed above. However, I don’t think I am neurotic (yet…although it is probably matter of opinion, depending on whom you ask!).
It is sad that D. ended up where he is now in his short life. The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, made famous by Hilary Clinton, is so true.
I guess D.’s village failed him.