Thursday 7 August 2014

Thought Picnic: Toughened, Roughened, Hardened

To toughen
To be toughened up, that was the idea when they sent him down South to attend boarding school and get somewhat integrated in their culture.
Probably it was a sheltered kind of life, every need met or rather no need to have needs because the provision was there as both a duty and responsibility, maybe a sign of love too.
To roughen
However, this exposed him to things that were beyond the control of both himself and those who were always there to protect him, either by support, excoriation or some ritual, and that was what the semblance of home life became.
Yet, as he toughened up, he also hardened up, hardened in resolve, hardened in heart and hardened on various elements of life. What resulted was a breakdown of communication, a widening of the gulf such that when he most desired someone to understand and help, there was no one to talk to.
It was a rough time, as if life had really roughened him up and many times that roughening up has happened over decades.
To harden
Now, the detachment is so tangible that the relationship is just historical and almost trivial. Besides, that seems to have become of the foundation of many areas of relationship building that have never endured for long.
It is a sad development, sometimes one of regret, but life must go on, since that detachment was such that when he lay alone dying in a faraway land, none were there to mop his brow. Much as one cannot hold it against them, other ties have developed and the original ones have diminished in value and quality.
Beware of the temptation to send off your offspring for toughening because they might well end up hardened, an unintended consequence and a serious one at that.

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