Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

Drops, not Hammers and Chisels

There are many ways to get to a certain place. You could take the usual path or the short cut or the longest path. You have the choice in how to make your journey for as long as you arrive in your destination. Though we differ in good methodology, we have the same right goal.

When a boy remarked to me this afternoon that I couldn’t do what a fellow worker did in order to exact discipline, he had me thinking. The strict and cold commandeering voice ruthlessly putting lines in order for fear of punishment is something different from the approach I have been using these past few months in dealing with the boys. They must have noticed it well to see the difference of how fast the boys answer my call to discipline that what they have just witnessed.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a sassy, pleading, and poor-me type of disciplinarian. I have my own version of firm in the kind-but-firm love. My childhood experience and my admiration of Don Bosco’s style of education makes me adhere to the principle of firm loving-kindness.
The tradition of military discipline and of corporal punishment seems to have its deep mark and lasting influence. The educator uses fear to command and the student waits for fear before obeying. It is a stigma to both sides which needs patient correction over time. It is very un-Salesian.
St. John Bosco used fear too, but not the kind of fear that estranges educator from pupil. His was the holy fear of God which builds on the love for the beloved and the desire to please the beloved. It is a fear, quite different, that springs from love. It is a different method that takes more time and invests more energy. But it its fruit is also lasting and truly formative.
Great, huge, and solid rocks are not broken down easily by hammers and chisels. Surprisingly, it only takes drops of water constantly falling on a rock over a long period of time which breaks a boulder. The result are not rugged and ragged edges but smooth and flowing curves. In the same way, hardened hearts are not softened by fear but by gentleness and love.
When I was confronted with the question, “Brother, can you do what so-and-so did? I bet you can’t”, I was fighting with myself. Of course I can but I won’t. I won’t use fear to exact discipline but I would coach have the boys think and decide for their own. My method is to coach them into internalizing discipline, not imposing it on them. I don’t want boys who’d jump at the chance of doing foolishness when conditions allow but I want boys who and are convince when and how to act properly.
I cannot but admit that the results are not immediate. You cannot easily expect them to behave as you desired because the change is not external but internal. The Salesian education aims at the heart and it takes time and patience. It is a journey with the young that imitates the love of the Good Shepherd.
Yes, it is frustrating to see that the boys still haven’t learned. When will they? How much time must it take? But I live by faith and not by sight. In the same way that my educators placed their faith in God, in gentleness and kindness, and in me, I do the same for the boys entrusted to me.


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