There is goodness in everyone

We are all very cautious about the company our children have in schools. It is a big factor in influencing their character, habits and attitude. We all remember the old adage the goes ‘Show me your friend. I will tell who you are’. As much as we are bothered about our children making good friends, we should also educate them to differentiate between good friends and bad friends. They should develop a sense of good on their own and a decision making ability to choose friends in school and social life.

It is with this objective that we conducted a session on differentiating good friends from bad friends at a school recently. After breaking the ice and setting up the platform for discussion, we got several children talking about their opinions on friendship. It was indeed very interesting to listen to them and to understand what matters the most in child-life friendships as opposed to adulthood friendship issues. We must admit that in some sense this activity took us back in our memory lanes to revisit the cute little friends we had in primary schools. Well, they never grew up in our memories and whenever we think of them, we see their warm smiles and idiosyncrasies as fresh as yesterday!

As the discussion heated up, we got the children to identify traits that they observe to be good and bad in friendship. They came up with a number of traits and with the guidance of our facilitators, even labelled them broadly into good and bad traits. After that came the important part. Once a child identifies a friend as a bad friend, how should he/she deal with the bad friend? Burning the bridge completely is an option.

But there was a bright girl from class five who surprised us all with her answer.

She said that instead of avoiding such a friend, she would try to make the person realize the good things hidden inside him and try to bring him back to good ways. That was an answer filled with compassion and empathy. No child acquires bad traits when it comes into the world. It is the upbringing and the society that tilts the balance in favor of bad. But there is an inherent goodness in every one of us – all we need to do is to recognize this and bring this to life.

An African tribe follows a custom that is a proof of this concept. If one among the tribe commits a crime and gets caught, they do not punish him. Instead they gather in a circle with the convict at the center and they all try to remind him of how good a person he was, all that he did good in his life and also try to make him see how good a person he can turn into. The weight of his own inherent goodness is the best medicine to make him repent his actions and correct himself.

That fifth grader girl may or may not have heard about this custom but her answer made us all proud and believe that there is indeed goodness in everyone!