My son does something naughty, unforgivable by a Mother’s standards. I yell at him, and raise my hand to strike. He cowers in fear. His eyes are wide, they plead, “Don’t”. For a fleeting fraction of a moment, when my eyes full of rage locks on his terrified ones, what passes through my mind is a wild pleasure. Someone is afraid of me! The Me that no one was ever afraid of. The Me who never could bully anyone and was forever bullied. The Me who was a weakling. And now here is this little being that is afraid of me. The fraction of a moment when I became the boss – the tiniest instant when I had the Power. Then the moment passes, and a flood of motherly regret and love washes away the illusion.

I look closely towards that smallest possible fraction of a second when I lost my head and imagined I had the Power. I zoom into it and magnify it into a window as large as Life. When I look in, I see myself in my second year at college, asking my juniors in the rudest possible manner, ‘Where’re you from?’ (and more unfriendly questions) in the name of ragging. I see myself at the door of my classroom looking insolent while my classmates brought an embarrassed guy from first year and asked him to ‘Salute Madam.’ Yes, these slightest instances of Power over Weaklings did feel good. (These juniors later became friends, and we laughed together at these instances, but that is not relevant.)

The appearance of power is merely an illusion.
The boy who saluted me wasn’t weak.
The girls who replied politely to my rude questions were not weak.
My son, who looks at me on the verge of tears, is not weak.

Everyone has a moment in their lives when they feel they have the Power over others. But there is a world of difference between having Power and using (abusing) it.

Where does this illusion of power come from?
Rage? Complexes? Money? Desire? Lust? Temptation? Availability (of a weakling right before one’s eyes ready to be reduced to ashes)? Hatred? Revenge? Absence of Fear? An Urge to Destroy? An easy way to silence the overpowering Beast within? A cowardly instinct that refuses to suppress the urge to destroy? The momentary blindness that clouds all reason?
So many reasons to do wrong. And only one against – that you mustn’t. That the only thing you are allowed to do to a person who appears weaker than you is help. Or walk away, before the Beast roars.

Despite a thousand admonitions from his mother to the contrary, a child throws stones at stray dogs. And when an explanation is demanded of him as to why he did that to an animal who did him no harm, he says, ‘My friends challenged me to do it. If I don’t, they will call me a coward.’ The phase may pass but the temptation to fall for a dare (lest he be called a coward) remains. The “collective wisdom of the Gang“.

We ask little boys who cry, “Why are you crying like a girl? Aren’t you a man??” Of course, girls are weaklings who cry.

As a nation, we are lost. We do not know where to begin, what to do. What are the symptoms, the causes, the signs, the answers, the solutions? Who to blame?

Parents of little girls shudder, afraid of the kind of world they are bringing their daughters up to face.
Parents of little boys shudder, afraid of the kind of men their sons would grow up into, despite their best efforts.
As parents, we are confused. Are we teaching our children the right lessons?
What in the world are the right lessons?