An anthropologist (let us call her Jane) visited an African tribe (let us call it Narash).
The Narash had been in touch with civilization – what we call civilization – in the past. But Jane decided to stay for a little time with them, to learn how they live and talk to them about her own life.
At some point she began talking about her house. The Narash found it very strange that there was something such as “kid’s room”. When they heard that the civilized parents slept in different rooms from their children, they were shocked. This was almost a criminal act in their book.
“Why do parents punish their children?” they asked her.
Forget about the Narash and the western standards of upbringing and think about this: Man’s greatest need, regardless of their age, is association.
The skin is the biggest sensory organ. The hug, the caress, the kiss, make man happier, healthier, more complete.
Man wants to associate with other people. Α child definitely NEEDS its’ parents, needs the daily contact with them even more than food.
See what we proceed to do (we, the civilized).
When a child is born (or even before that) we arrange the place of exile, the child’s room. Most infants must learn within the first six months or the first year of their life to sleep alone.
Psychologists preaching early infant independence have made millions out of their books and their tips “how you can discipline your child to sleep alone”. In these tips, are also included approaches that bring to mind torments, since the mother (the good mother) must refuse to take the baby from its bed, no matter how much it cries.
“The baby will get used to it” maintain the psychologists of the E.I.I., meaning that it will get used to rejection.
A parent that sleeps with the baby is a terrible one, because that’s the way they teach it to be independent. A parent that won’t give in to its cries and leaves it on its own is a good one, because they teach it independence.
This is the first cage of our life.
Just take a look at this cot.
It is a cage!
It’s a cage where the child is imprisoned, secluded, out of reach of the only people that it needs during the first years of its life: its parents.
Pretty soon in order to keep up with the modern way of life which requires both parents working all day long, the child will find itself in the nursery school, in a new prison.
It’s a prison with lovely colours and wonderful toys, but the child is deprived of its parents – in order to become independent.
So the baby firstly learns to sleep alone at night and secondly to be among strangers throughout the day.
During the limited time that remains to see its parents, they are exhausted and disappointed, therefore spending an hour of quality time is considered to be a “luxury” and a feat of the first magnitude; that is to play with the child, hug it, sing to it or read it a story.
Quality time, free time, suppressed time. This is pretty much the way we live our lives. Enslaved, mainly.
In modern cities, the model of nuclear or single-parent family prevails. Grandfathers and grandmothers are considered by today’s psychology as a “bad influence”.
It is preferable that the child becomes independent in alien surroundings, among strangers than being spoiled by its grandmother.
Then the 8-hour cage comes into play: School.
Nursery schools, kindergartens and primary schools are all-day now. The kids are left there from 8 o’clock in the morning till 4 pm. It seemsas if their parents try to revenge them or prepare them for the 8-hour workday that is coming up next.
Some people do so because there is no other way. Because they work eight hours (minimum) per day. Because there are no grandfathers or grandmothers, or they are too old, or they don’t have time.
But there are parents who, even though they don’t have to leave the house, unemployed or not, send their kids outside for eight hours. It is more convenient and furthermore they don’t know how to play with their children, often they can’t stand them.
The children come back home shortly after 4pm, they eat, they study and they go to their extracurricular activities: Music, art classes, sports, foreign languages, computer lessons.
They return back home at night and if they can keep their eyes open, they fall asleep while watching a DVD, TV or in front of the computer screen.
Then the parents will carry them to the children’s room, to their cage.
The school is a cage. Just look at them! There are railings everywhere. What purpose do they serve, to keep some out or to keep some in? Schools look more like prisons.
The school is a cage. Parrot-learning, tests, pressure, marks, mockery and competition.
Some are good students, some average and some are thick.
Chances of meeting an inspiring teacher are the same of meeting an honest politician.
Have a flashback to your school days. How many teachers can you recall? Teachers that gave you hope and courage just like the one in“Dead Poets Society”.
The writer has met one of them (read Oh captain – my captain). Have you?
How many teachers do we get to know until we finish school? And why just a handful of them inspire us? Is it just the cage, the way school works? Or maybe are the educators a part of the cage?
After the small cage, we enter the final ante-room: The army and the university.
The army is a cage, this requires no more elaboration.
The university plays its part in helping man to get used to submission.
A friend of mine told me a few days after he entered university: “The way psychology is being taught, makes religion spring to mind. Beliefs and certainties. You are not allowed to question the model that the teachers teach. If you do, they simply won’t pass you.”
And then it is the last cages’ turn.
Look around you. We live in cages, one above the other. We decorate them and build them the way we want, but they are still cages.
Some cages are more expensive, more spacious or sunnier. Some people rent a cage and others own it.
We jump at the first opportunity for an outing or a trip. We have a 15-day vacation. Then we return to our cage.
Look around you. The next time you are stuck in traffic, have a glance at the other drivers. See their faces, their motions.
They are humans, trapped in moveable, automobile cages.
Tens of moveable cages, one behind the other, immobilized, with their drivers honking to move on another five meters, before they stop dead once again, to move on, to go where?
To the big cage of work.
How many people do you know of, that are doing what they like? And earning enough to make a living?
Are you, be honest, excited when going to work? Speak the truth, no-one hears you but yourself. Do you wake up joyful in the morning saying: “Wonderful! I’m going to work. During the following eight hours I’m about to do amazing things”
I don’t mean to put the blame on anybody or denigrate them.
The need to live and to provide the ones we love with the necessities for this, leaves us no choice but do things we loathe.
I don’t want to pretend that I am superior or anything different. I have worked –I still do – at toiling jobs getting no pleasure whatsoever.
I pronounce myself satisfied because I can pay my bills, I maintain my mood to love my child and my partner and also find some time to indulge myself with some wine and write my stuff.
This is my cage: Narrow, humble, my own.
Just like Mandela, I am fond of my cell, I eat my food and I read avidly. But what could be the liberation I am waiting for?
I’ve been shut in here since I was a child. I paint the railings and I decorate them instead of tearing them down. Because I don’t know what I would do out there, outside the cage.
Birds born in a cage, don’t know how to fly.
(The first picture is from a shop at a street that sells…cages.)
Translated by Alexandros Mantas
Edited by Jackie Pert
Since we’re not native speakers, feel free to suggest improvements and make corrections
And some music by Residuos Mentales https://www.facebook.com/residuos.mentales/