Yan's Corner - In Touch

Sunday, February 05, 2006

From Guilty to Glory?

My parents brought up their nine children with one principle that if we ever got into a fight with other children or got into trouble in school and punished by teachers, their fingers were always pointed to us first. We have to be absolutely sure that we were innocent. Even if we seemed to be the victims, we would be reprimanded because we were involved in a fight or we had given causes for teachers to complain about our attitudes. My parents would always lecture us or punish us first. Usually, after punishing us, the cases were closed.

Because of the house rule, nine of us had never brought our parents to school or neighbours for “justice to be done”.

I remember receiving 99 strokes of rotan on my palm when I failed to learn the times table (2x2=4 and so on) or rather I could not grasp the logic of the times table then. My parents did not stormed into the school and demanded an apology for my swollen palm. But, I remember my mother rubbed some ointment on my palm.

I remember one of my brothers’ hair was cut in a “zigzag-style” because his hair was a little longer than the standard length. My late father did not demand an apology from the school. I also remember my father brought my brother to a barber’s shop for a nice hair cut.

You call it “coward-parenting-style”. But it effectively taught us to be responsible. It taught us to always to be disciplined. It taught us not to regard the discipline of the parents lightly. It taught us to always get the subject correct.

My parents had not been “learned” enough to tell us in words the rationale behind their principle. My parents knew that law controlled and regulated and changed the actions of their children. My parents showed enough love and grace to control and change the attitudes of their children from within. My parents knew that no law or legislation or punishment could change the attitudes. They knew no one can control actions wholly by love and grace. Law and grace should work together.

My parents had not been “learnt” enough to put into words their objectives of punishments. They punished because they wanted to create a sense of seriousness in the one being punished. They wanted the one being punished to distinguish right from wrong. They wanted to shape the conscience of their children. They wanted to establish justice. They wanted their children to know that they were not alone in life. Any of their misdeeds affect not only themselves but others as well.

Indeed, we are not alone in life. We live in a community. Our misdeeds affect not only ourselves but others as well. If we are not punished for wrongdoing, we are instilling the idea in our next generation’s hearts that we don’t really need to care about the difference between right and wrong, and that there is no justice.

But, there are many important values in justice. By taking away justice, it also means we are eliminating mercy and grace.

In First Chronicles 21, David sinned. In contrary to the Word of God, and even against the advice of his generals, David numbered Israel to see how many soldiers he had. God did not want David to trust in numbers. But, David was disobedient. Realizing that he had done wrong, David confessed it to God.

God said to him, "Look, I'll give you a choice of three punishments: either you will experience three years of famine in the land, or three months of defeat at the hands of your enemies, or three days of pestilence among the people within the land. Which do you want?" (1 Chronicles 21:10-12). That is an interesting account, because it shows that God allowed David to enter into the choice of his punishment, understanding that this would deter him from ever doing anything like that again. But David made a wise choice. He said, "Lord, I can't choose; you choose."

I discussed with my 10-year-old son on the issue of 11 “grandfathers” arrested for gambling and the police had their heads shaved. Six of the 11 grandfathers lodged police reports alleging inhuman treatment.

My 10-year-old asked, “If I come home one day with my head shaved by the police because of illegal gambling, what is more important to you? My soul or my hair?”

The 10-year-old gets the subject correct.

When asked what punishment would be appropriate for such wrongdoing, the 10-year-old knew he could not choose, “I can’t choose, mummy. It’s up to you.”

Have we changed the subject by questioning “To shave or not to shave”? Have we chosen to glorify these 11 “grandfathers” with their guilt? Would the grandfathers choose what punishment they want?

7 comment(s):

Ha, ha, you do sound very, very annoyed. Or frustrated?

I remember one of the "gong-gong" said he had to cheat his grandchildren that he went to a hair salon to have his head shaved to avoid embarassment.

I wonder whether with such big "hoo-ha" of the issue his grandchildren by now know that his "gong-gong" had his head shaved by the police for illegal gambling.

Yes, I agree with you, don't change subject.


By Anonymous PT, at 4:58 pm  

Hi, dear friend, pt,

A little annoyed that the press seems to be led by the crowd!

Yes, I also read in the Chinese newspaper that one of the famous 11 said he had to cheat his grandchild of the "lost hair".


By Blogger Yan, at 6:56 pm  


my mind was rocked by MGG Pillai's column Title: CHIAROSCURO; in Latin it means "in the multiple shades of grey".

to shave or niot to shave -- that's a question we should consider less grey than the abuse of the Lock-up Rules cited by the OCPD to defend his underlings action, which clearly overstepped the boundary. Is "killing a fly with a hammer" a good analogy?

Your post today puts Desi in some dilemma -- "may" quarrel with thee on the premises in a Face-Off but not via a post&comment, as there is no Black and White minstrel show!:)
Furthermore, I dowan Y&A Chris asking Desi -- how come the police didn't give you a TYul Bryneer treatment for playin' KoiBoiPoker!:(

By Blogger desiderata, at 9:55 am  

Hi, Yan,

It's press sensationalism at work; both a commercial and political motive.

I think here the issue is about abuse of power by shaving people bald, presuming this is not standard police procedure. Why can't the police simply charge and fine them if there is violation of the law? If they are guilty, they have to pay the penalty, no two-way about it. Somehow, they always seem to choose controversial methods as if to defy or attract public outcry.

By Blogger Joepsc, at 1:50 pm  

You got 99 strokes for not knowing your times table?? Gosh, am I glad I wasn't in your school, cos if I were, I would have received so many strokes my hand would have just come off!

By Blogger fishtail, at 10:47 pm  

I admire your 10-yr-old son. He's very wise:)

By Blogger YingKs, at 6:56 pm  

Didn't quite saw it that way. Your kid is a smart one.

By Blogger Lump Of Clay, at 8:33 pm  

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