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Saturday, July 23, 2022

4. Youthful Folly



The Lines

Bottom. [6] A person who lacks discipline will not be able to devote himself to the intensive study necessary to master a subject. Discipline does not mean the forced performance of dull routine, however. That only deadens the mind and replaces true inquiry. Discipline means focusing one's attention on the object of study until it becomes clear, until it is understood and can be used. The young child is accustomed to play and expects everything to be fun. But the serious student finds pleasure in working on something that is difficult until it becomes easy.

2. [9] A kind man is patient with inexperienced youth. He is meticulous with explanations to those who find it difficult to comprehend. He takes it as his responsibility to help and encourage such persons, not to ridicule and humiliate them. With tolerance and inner strength, such a man is able to lead large groups of the young and inexperienced.

3. [6] An inexperienced person, seeking improvement, loses his way if he indulges himself in adulation of a strong man that he views as a hero. It is not by becoming a devotee of some admired person, but by developing one's own inner self that a person is able to find his true self. Hero worship is bad for both the worshipper and the object of his adulation, because it focuses on a personal, emotional relationship rather than on the development of independence. A servile relationship only leads to disillusionment.

4. [6] There is little that can be done for one who is caught up in fantasy and unrealistic expectations. Such a person needs to escape his imaginative world and return to reality. The best thing a teacher can do is to abandon such a one to his folly until he comes back down to earth.

5. [6] To be childlike in attitude is to be open to receive instruction. Openness does not necessarily mean being gullible. It means not being arrogant, not being resistant nor full of oneself and one's own ideas. Such a mind is easy to teach, and is the perfect soil for developing a flourishing intellect.

Top. [9] At times, it is necessary to take firmer measures with youthful folly when it persists. But the punishment should be mild, and its purpose must be to educate, not to destroy. The desired end is that the wrongdoer learns to act more responsibly and to abandon his foolish ways. But excessive punishment will only teach resentment and harden attitudes, not serve to prevent a recurrence. The purpose of punishment for pursuing folly is not to inflict retribution, but to change behavior.

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