Thanks to religious Leaders, a cancelled Event made Atheism more popular! – 15 Oct 16

So yesterday was my 45th birthday and definitely a day I won’t forget. Not for my change of age however but for the events of this day.

As I already mentioned, we had planned an atheist meeting on 14th October. A similar meeting in the last year brought together a hundred like-minded people who enjoyed it a lot. When I put out the plan on social media in this year, thousands of people showed interest in coming and people started signing up right away. We had more than 500 confirmed guests – and information of many people coming along with them or coming without registration. So in this way we were expecting a crowd of up to 1000 people. We did our arrangements accordingly, preparing for feeding everyone and accommodating as many as possible.

People started coming already two days before the program to help as volunteers and many were on their way from thousands of kilometers away, by plane and train. Even though our event was to happen on our private premises, we took a legal permission from authorities, just as a precaution. Then we heard of a local event on which religious leaders and some goons with them were planning a protest and even an attack on our event. We were obviously not very happy about this but we thought that we didn’t have any problem with anybody, so why would someone have a problem with us peacefully meeting and discussing our thoughts? Why would believers disturb our calm dialogue if we don’t go to disturb their rituals and ceremonies? Even if they didn’t like us, they could do a peaceful demonstration here while we were inside our Ashram. But things didn’t turn out as we thought.

Yesterday morning, we were busy in the preparations of our event and enjoyed welcoming all those people who had come from all over India just for talking to people who think similarly. It was then that the drama started: a few of Vrindavan’s religious leaders prepared a stage at the other side of the road and began shouting slogans. As it is usual in India, a crowd soon began to form and people were obviously angry. We had prepared with extra security, closed and locked our gate and the shutter in front of our entrance doors.

Then, a bulldozer came and broke a signboard in front of our door as well as the ramp that was leading from the road up to our restaurant!

Those who were already inside watched the destruction in disbelief. We saw how the crowd gathered and shouted and finally started burning a puppet in front of our doorstep! A female reporter who tried to go out was pulled away from our gate by the crowd and was even hit! Also those of our guests who had not made it until our gate were held off by the angry mob!

Police officers were around to prevent bigger damage but unfortunately did not actively keep them away a lot. That’s how they managed to throw stones and break our new first-floor glass windows! They had petrol with them and wanted to set our home on fire. Due to some alert security guards, this could not happen.

Finally, the present police officers came to us and told us to cancel the event in order to be able to maintain law and order. In order to control the mob outside, they suggested a meeting with the leading religious personalities. In this, they tried to get me to promise them in written not only that we would cancel the event but that I would not call myself an atheist and that I would not write about such topics anymore. I replied that we would call off the event but that it was my fundamental right in this democracy to express my opinion and that I would do this further, too.

That’s how we cancelled our event. This news, too, spread like wildfire on social media. A lot of people who were on the way had to turn back. The official program was cancelled but with those who were already here, we decided to enjoy the evening with a birthday cake and dinner!

We wanted to discuss and talk – but these people came with violence! I was wondering: is this what religion wants to show itself? That’s why exactly so many people think it is not right to follow! With all this protest and the attack on this event as well as damage to our property, these people actually made our cancelled event so very popular! We would have peacefully had our program, had they not been there – but in this way, I have to really thank these religious people because the cancelled event spread like wildfire in social media and national and even international newspapers! Thousands more people got to know that an event for atheist or non-religious people was taking place in Vrindavan.

I was busy the whole afternoon with interviews – and below I am giving you the links for the most popular articles.

Of course many people were disappointed because the discussion that they had expected could not take place in the way that it was meant to. However, the message we wanted to give went out: religion does create issues we cannot ignore and atheism is a way that shows you how to get rid of many of these! I can assure those who could not come or who cancelled due to the events that we will meet again – there are already plans for getting together in an even bigger way, but this time in another place, for example in Delhi.

At this point, I want to thank my friends who were here and are still helping us through this time. Another thanks to those who are sending messages and birthday wishes and ask whether my family and I are safe. We are safe and in peace now, with police protection in front of our house. The restaurant is open again.

Of course, my family and I still have other issues now: we don’t need to calculate to see that we have a big financial loss. With the cancellation of the program, we had expenses for things that were not used, people who wanted to contribute could not come, the t-shirts we had printed and which a lot of people wanted to buy could not be sold. On top of it we have to replace windows, make a new ramp and get a new advertising board in front of our restaurant, too!

But life goes on and we are happy as long as we won't be bothered like this in front of our home!

I also want to use a few lines to thank everyone for your support of any kind, be it moral, emotional, mental or financial – it is very much appreciated! It was great to see how many friends we have, standing with us in this time.

 

And here are the news articles:

The Hindu
Times of India
Hindustan Times
Patrika
Indian Express
Scroll.in
India.com
The Wire
Financial Express
 

Dank religiöser Führer machte eine abgesagte Veranstaltung Atheismus noch bekannter! – 15 Okt 16

Gestern war also mein 45. Geburtstag und definitiv ein Tag, den ich nicht vergessen werde. Jedoch nicht, weil ich ein Jahr älter geworden bin, sondern aufgrund der Ereignisse des Tages. Und gleichzeitig möchte ich meinen Freunden danken.

Wie bereits erwähnt, hatten wir am 14. Oktober ein Atheisten-Treffen geplant. Ein ähnliches Treffen brachte im letzten Jahr einhundert Gleichgesinnte zusammen, denen das Treffen viel Freude brachte. Als ich in diesem Jahr den Plan in soziale Netzwerke stellte, zeigten tausende Leute Interesse daran zu kommen und es kamen auch gleich Anmeldungen. Wir hatten mehr als 500 bestätigte Gäste – und Informationen von vielen Leuten, die mit ihnen oder ohne Anmeldung kommen wollten. Auf diese Weise erwarteten wir also eine Menschenmenge von bis zu 1000 Leuten. Wir bereiteten uns dementsprechend vor, auf die Versorgung und Unterkunft so vieler Leute wie möglich.

Bereits zwei Tage vor dem Programm begannen freiwillige Helfer anzukommen und viele machten sich von tausenden Kilometern entfernt per Zug und Flugzeug auf den Weg. Obwohl unsere Veranstaltung auf unserem Privatgrund stattfinden sollte, holten wir uns von den Behörden eine Genehmigung, zur Vorbeugung. Dann hörten wir von einer Veranstaltung vor Ort, auf der religiöse Anführer und einige Rowdys einen Protest und sogar einen Angriff auf unsere Veranstaltung planten. Natürlich freuten wir uns nicht hierüber, dachten jedoch, dass wir mit keinem ein Problem hatten, warum also sollte jemand damit ein Problem haben, dass wir uns friedlich treffen und unsere Gedanken besprechen? Warum würden Gläubige unseren ruhigen Dialog stören, wenn wir ihre Rituale und Zeremonien nicht störten? Selbst wenn sie uns nicht mochten, könnten sie draußen friedlich demonstrieren, während wir hier in unserem Ashram waren. Doch die Dinge liefen nicht, wie wir uns das dachten.

Gestern Früh waren wir mit den Vorbereitungen auf unsere Veranstaltung beschäftigt und begrüßten all die Leute, die aus ganz Indien gekommen waren, nur um sich mit denen zu unterhalten, die ähnlich denken wie sie. Da begann das Drama: einige von Vrindavans religiösen Anführern bereiteten auf der anderen Straßenseite eine Bühne vor und begannen, Parolen zu rufen. Wie üblich in Indien bildete sich schnell eine Menschenmenge und die Leute, die da zusammenkamen erschienen sehr wütend. Wir hatten bereits extra Sicherheitskräfte, verschlossen und verriegelten unser Tor und ließen den Rollladen vor den Türen herunter.

Als Nächstes kam ein Bagger und zerstörte ein Schild vor unserer Tür sowie die Rampe, die von der Straße zum Restaurant führte!

Diejenigen, die bereits drinnen waren, beobachteten ungläubig die Zerstörung. Wir sahen, wie die Menschenmenge zusammenkam, rumschrie und schließlich begann, vor unserer Tür eine Puppe zu verbrennen! Eine Reporterin, die versuchte rauszugehen, wurde von unserem Tor weggezogen und sogar geschlagen! Und diejenigen unserer Gäste, die es nicht bis zu unserem Tor geschafft hatten, wurden von der wütenden Menschenmenge ferngehalten!

Polizeibeamte waren da, um größeren Schaden zu verhindern, doch leider hielten sie die Menge nicht sehr aktiv fern. So konnten es diese schaffen, Steine zu werfen und unsere neuen Glasfenster im ersten Stock kaputt zu schmeißen! Sie hatten auch Benzin dabei und wollten unser Haus anzünden. Aufgrund einiger wacher Sicherheitsmänner konnte das nicht geschehen.

Schließlich kamen die anwesenden Polizeibeamten zu uns und baten uns, die Veranstaltung abzusagen, damit sie Recht und Ordnung bewahren konnten. Um die Menschenmenge draußen unter Kontrolle zu bringen, schlugen sie ein Treffen mit führenden religiösen Persönlichkeiten vor. Dabei versuchten sie mich dazu zu bringen, ihnen schriftlich zu geben, dass wir nicht nur unsere Veranstaltung absagen, sondern dass ich mich nicht mehr als Atheist bezeichnen und nie wieder über solche Themen schreiben würde. Ich antwortete, dass wir die Veranstaltung zwar absagen würden, dass es in dieser Demokratie aber mein Grundrecht wäre, meine Meinung auszudrücken und dass ich das auch in Zukunft weiterhin tun würde.

So sagten wir also dieses Treffen ab. Auch diese Nachricht verbreitete sich in sozialen Netzwerken. Jede Menge Leute, die auf dem Weg waren, mussten umkehren. Das offizielle Programm wurde abgesagt, doch wir beschlossen, mit denen, die bereits da waren, den Abend mit einem Geburtstagskuchen und Abendessen zu beenden!

Wir wollten diskutieren und reden – doch diese Leute kamen mit Gewalt! Man muss sich fragen: will Religion sich selbst so darstellen? Genau darum denken so viele Leute, dass es nicht richtig ist, Religion zu folgen. Mit all diesem Protest und dem Angriff auf diese Veranstaltung sowie dem Schaden an unserem Eigentum haben diese Menschen unsere abgesagt Veranstaltung so bekannt gemacht! Wir hätten hier friedlich unser Programm gehabt, wären sie nicht dagewesen – doch so muss ich diesen religiösen Leuten wirklich danken, weil die abgesagte Veranstaltung sich in sozialen Medien sowie in nationalen und sogar internationalen Zeitungsberichten wie Wildfeuer verbreitet hat! Tausende Leute mehr erfuhren, dass in Vrindavan eine Veranstaltung für Atheisten oder nicht-religiöse Leute stattfinden sollte.

Ich war den ganzen Nachmittag lang mit Interviews beschäftigt – und unten seht ihr die Links für die bekanntesten Artikel.

Natürlich waren viele Leute enttäuscht, weil die Unterhaltungen, die sie erwartet hatten, nicht so stattfinden konnten, wie es gedacht war. Doch die Botschaft, die wir geben wollten, ging raus: Religion schafft Probleme, die wir nicht ignorieren können und der Atheismus ist ein Weg, der dir zeigt, wie man viele dieser Probleme lösen kann! Ich kann diejenigen, die nicht kommen konnten, oder die aufgrund der Ereignisse ihre Reise abgebrochen haben, versichern, dass wir uns wieder treffen – es gibt bereits Pläne für ein noch größeres Treffen, zum Beispiel in Delhi.

An diesem Punkt möchte ich meinen Freunden danken, die hier waren und uns immer noch durch diese schwierige Zeit hindurchhelfen. Ein weiteres Dankeschön an diejenigen, die Geburtstagsgrüße schicken und fragen, ob meine Familie und ich sicher sind. Wir sind nun sicher und haben es hier friedlich, mit Polizeischutz vor unserer Haustür. Das Restaurant ist wieder offen.

Natürlich haben meine Familie und ich nun immer noch andere Themen anstehen: wir müssen nicht viel rechnen um zu sehen, dass wir einen großen finanziellen Verlust haben. Mit der Absage des Programms hatten wir Ausgaben für Dinge, die nicht verwendet wurden, Leute, die beitragen wollten, konnten nicht kommen, die T-Shirts, die wir bedruckt hatten und die viele Leute haben wollten, konnten nicht verkauft werden. Dazu müssen wir nun Scheiben ersetzen, eine neue Rampe machen und auch ein neues Werbeschild vor unsere Tür stellen!

Doch das Leben geht weiter und wir sind froh, solange wir vor unserer Haustür nicht so belästigt werden!

Ich möchte auch ein paar Zeilen darauf verwenden, allen für ihre Unterstützung jeglicher Art zu danken, sei es moralisch, emotional, mental oder finanziell – das schätzen wir sehr! Es war großartig zu sehen, wie viele Freunde wir haben, die uns in dieser Zeit beistehen.

Und hier sind die Zeitungsartikel:

The Hindu
Times of India
Hindustan Times
Patrika
Indian Express
Scroll.in
India.com
The Wire
Financial Express

Is your imaginary God happy when Millions of innocent Animals get killed? – 13 Sep 16

Today Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid. It is the most violent celebration in the religious year! Millions of goats get killed on the name of religion in an effort to please god. In this content, I don’t however want to write about being vegetarian or non-vegetarian. People develop their eating habits according to their surrounding and a lot of factors play a role there, too. No, my questions is: why do you kill so many innocent animals for a non-existing god?

I cannot understand which imaginary figure would be pleased by seeing the pain, suffering and death of so many creatures he himself had created! Wouldn’t he be rather angry about it?

Additionally, the concept behind this ritual is complete nonsense, too! You are supposed to sacrifice whatever is dearest to you in order to please god. The background is that Ibrahim, too, was willing to sacrifice even his son when god demanded it of him.

Again, why would your god be happy if you sacrificed whatever is dearest to you? Why would he ask you to kill your son? Why would he make you unhappy?

It is this story which costs millions of goats their lives on this day.

I just think it is good that a goat doesn’t have a god – otherwise they would sacrifice you instead!

Why we needed to change Apra’s School – 12 Sep 16

I just realized that during the time in which I wrote less blog entries, I missed telling you of a very important event which has brought again a big change to our lives: Apra has officially started going to school!

Maybe you remember how I told you last year that Apra had joined our school. With her three and a half years, she was still very small and we had no intention of really sending her that early. We are generally of the opinion that children need the time in that age to play and not sit in school for learning, as it is so often here. However Apra’s Ashram brothers all went to school in the morning and so she also very much wanted to go – and she enjoyed going to the classes where teachers were singing and playing with the kids!

So we let her go and encouraged her, too. Soon however we noticed that it was not as easy as we thought: Apra has her own mind and started wandering in between the classes, sometimes sitting here, sometimes there. The teachers enjoyed playing with the little one – but that was obviously not helping her learn and at the same time disturbed the other classes! And whenever she felt like, she would return back home, walk into our office and declare that she was done with school for the day!

We realized that our school, as much as we wanted her to learn here, would always present exactly this problem: she would not be one among others and home would always be too close! For a certain discipline which she would need to learn in life, she would need distance in between home and school! But what to do? We know that schools in the surrounding all use violence in their daily teaching – something which we would not be able to bear! Did we have any other option?

It was in the last summer holidays that a lady came as a guest to our restaurant who had been working in one school in Mathura that we had only heard about until that point. We had tried to find out where it was but found it difficult online. In our talk with her however, we asked very clearly whether corporal punishment was used there – and heard that it was strictly forbidden! It was music to our ears!

We immediately called and went the next day to visit the school – and were amazed! There, in Mathura, not very far away from our Ashram, we found a place that actually matched our philosophy, where children could learn in playful way, where violence was strictly banned and where there was no pressure on the little ones! Activity classes have more importance and there are lots of playgrounds, sport areas and fields for games on the huge grounds of the school. The teachers whom we met were lovely and the principal’s words explaining their philosophy so much matched our ideas, we immediately paid the advance for Apra’s admission fee!

And that’s how, on 4th July 2016, we walked into the school, Apra in between Ramona and me, in her new school uniform and incredibly proud! Apra and Ramona had made a ‘Schultüte’, which is a German tradition for the first school day, a large cornet with little presents for the child – and after a few hours at school, she was allowed to open it, finding sweets, stickers and a pencil case for the big school girl!

So now we are officially parents of a school girl – and of course I can already tell you some stories of how this has changed our and Apra’s life!

Religion is the Root of Terrorism – 11 Sep 16

Today is the day that the whole world will keep in their memory as the day of the biggest terror attack which shook the west and set the tone of politics for the future years. On 11th September 2001, terrorists flew two planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center and one into the Pentagon. A terror attack with nearly three thousand victims.

George W. Bush declared a war on terror some days after – and it never ended until today. Terrorism has grown in the years to come and in many parts of the world, there are wars and conflicts which you can trace back with the root being in the attacks of today, fifteen years back.

Politicians have been very diplomatic in the years after. There has always been talk about terrorists and much too often, talk did not touch the topic of religion! Why? Because nobody wanted to hurt those religious sentiments that I have been telling you about in the past days, too!

In my eyes, you have to say it very clearly: the violence which became evident that day and in attacks after is based on religion, the religion of Islam.

A lot of people say it is not religion but only fanatic minds that do such things. Agreed, it is fanatic minds – but religion is the base of them becoming fanatic! Religion enhances this violence, supports this violence and asks for this violence in the outdated texts that believers HAVE to follow! And I do not limit this to Islam! Of course, there are a lot of fanatics in all religions and that’s how you have terrorism in other religions, too. Religion fuels fanatic ideas and violence in the consequence.

Each time when you say ‘this is not religion’, you actually defend what religion is doing. You increase it further and give energy to those who are ready for violence! Only if you directly talk against it, the source of the problem, will you be able to make a difference and actually fight the cause and the consequences at the same time! It is a fight that was started then and we are still in it today – but talking around the core of the problem won’t help.

You cannot exclude Religion when speaking about Terrorism – 26 Jul 16

After writing yesterday’s blog post about terrorism, I had the feeling that there is one aspect which didn’t quite fit in with yesterday’s message but at the same time is important to the reason why these attacks happen at all: it is religious terrorism! Again and again it is Islamic terrorists, suicide bombers, attackers that kill dozens, hundreds and thousands of people! You cannot pretend as though religion didn’t play a role in this!

Islam is very clearly the religion that these criminals follow and it is teachings of this religion that give them the idea of such cruel actions in the first place. It is not only a disturbed or depressed mind in anger on himself and the world but it is a systematic infiltration of minds that leads to humans committing such crimes! There is an intention of people who use religion as a reason for killing and murder!

When I hear politicians talking about this aspect of attacks however, they often try to avoid the core of the issue. They claim this is not Islam, the religion, at fault and they blame people who change the message of an otherwise ‘peaceful religion’. I don’t agree with this. I don’t think Islam is peaceful.

Once more we have come to the topic of religion and I tell you again that in my opinion, everyone should have the full freedom to believe whatever he or she wants as long as no other people are affected, insulted or injured. At the same time however we clearly see that religions in general and Islam in particular do affect others!

You cannot close your eyes in front of the fact that there are believers of religions promoting hate and spreading fear. In the name of gods that they claim to be just and fair! How come you can still believe in a god that would allow, yes, ask for such crimes? You cannot just wave it off and say ‘that is not really god’ because these people look at the same scriptures and teachings!

I believe to really stop such horrible acts, we have to go against religion and every teaching of it that promotes violence. If you sit down and pick apart the messages of different religions, you will find that a lot of them contain lots of violence. In today’s world, we don’t need this. Stop spreading outdated messages or anger and pain. Open your arms to others of all colour, background, caste and religion – only like this we can improve the situation in this world!

Don’t let Terrorists get what they want! – 25 Jul 16

Today I want to write to you about recent events in Europe. In my second home, to be exact: in Germany. I am sure you have heard about the terroristic attack in Munich – and you can imagine that we all are touched by this topic as well. However disturbed however you are, I would say one thing: don’t let this fear get you down. Because that is exactly what terrorists want.

Yes, it is true: what is the aim of terrorists? Spreading terror and fear. Disturbing your normal life in a way that makes it impossible for you not to think of them. Terrorists want you to act out of fear and that’s exactly what we should not do if we don’t want them to win!

Acting out of fear does not only mean that you don’t go out anymore or that you avoid concerts, festivals and big crowds in general. No, it is also about your actions towards people who are different. It comes to your thoughts, attitude and behavior as well! Do you start avoiding those who look different? Do you suddenly change the side of the road if you see a man in different clothing or hairstyle? Does your mindset start moving towards an attitude that would forbid foreigners, even refugees, to come to your country?

Because this is what is happening in many parts of the world right now and this plays directly into the hands of terrorists. What could fuel insecurity, negative feelings and finally hate towards others more than a big politician or leader telling foreigners to stay out of the country? And those leaders are supported by people who act out of fear. Who were affected by the attacks and decided to think against others instead of thinking how we, as society and mankind, can help each other in love instead of fear.

That’s how we get people like Donald Trump as presidential candidates! That’s how we get people like Narender Modi as prime minister.

And that’s how they get the power to fuel this hate even more.

So in the end, in all our democratic countries, it is up to us to decide: do we want to be in fear and give power to those who cash in on fear? Or would we rather despise the acts of terrorists, refuse to let them influence out minds and actions and spread kindness and love?

I request you to do the latter – for the sake of mankind and peace in this world!

The Consequences of domestic Violence and arranged Marriage – 10 Jun 16

Yesterday I told you that a facebook friend of mine had come. In one of our longer talks, we of course also came to the topics of culture, relationships and love. We shared a few thoughts on the problems that can arise and of course talked about their possible solutions as well. With all of this thought processes going on, I wanted to share a little part of that with you, too.

When talking about Indian culture and relationships, there will always be one issue coming up: arranged marriages. A lot of people here, the majority of Indians in fact, still believe very strongly in this concept. That includes young people as well who, from the beginning of their lives, get the idea that their parents would definitely find the right partner for them. What do you need for this idea to work though? Apart from the luck to find someone compatible, it requires trust. What to do however if the child doesn’t have this trust?

I believe this can happen a lot in this society and even more with the advance of modern media, globalization and possibilities to travel, see and understand more and be freer. Young people get to see a lot more than what they were able to know in the past. They may not trust their parents to make the right choice anymore. And often you don’t have to go very far to see why: in their own home, they can often see an example of how marriage should NOT look like.

Fights, suppression and even violence – nothing very uncommon in many Indian families!

It is also no wonder, in my opinion, that this scars a little child. And it may scar him or her so much that the idea of marriage is too scary. That there is the wish for love, closeness and intimacy – but the fear of experiencing violence too big! There is no trust – in the other gender, in parents to make the right choice and even in themselves to choose correctly.

A young woman may very well get afraid of her future husband beating her the same way her father was beating her mother. Young men may be afraid of his future wife nagging and constantly trying to get into fights, showing her disappointment just as his mother was doing to his father.

At the same time, they long for that ideal love which they see in movies, hear of in stories and feel a desire for the same experience in their hearts. They have this need for acceptance and love but they don’t dare.

For me this makes one more thing very clear: we have to do more to stop domestic violence. We have to make people aware of their options, of the possibility to leave and even press charges. We have to make this pressing of charges easy and possible. And in the end, I believe still arranged marriage is not the right way, as more people will feel disappointed with the partner that was chosen for them. This leads to conflict and an unhealthy environment for children.

More than anything however I want to ask parents: be an example for your children because they learn from your actions much more than from your words!

Indians hit their Children in public Places – and don’t feel guilty about it! – 8 Jun 16

In our restaurant, we witness again and again something which we have been working against for many, many years now: domestic violence against children. Unfortunately it is so common here in India that no day passes on which we don’t see a child getting hit or at least threatened to be hit. In the middle of the restaurant, where everyone else can see and hear it. Without shame or guilt. It is normal.

I knew this. I have always known it because I grew up here. For Ramona, this came as a shock which was revealed over time. In the past years, it was more an issue which we saw at schools. Obviously: we had sponsored children in other schools and corporal punishment was the issue we faced. We opened our own school and taught our teachers how to teach without violence. It is a never-ending topic as you have to repeat those talks, workshops and classes whenever new teachers join! It was direct interaction with teachers, not so much with parents – although we of course saw that, too.

With Apra’s birth and in the years that followed, we were strongly reminded that this was also a domestic problem in people’s families. Children of staff members at the Ashram were hit – and we opposed it. We created rules for staff not to use violence or even violent language at our Ashram. It was our small world here and we lived in here.

Now, with the opening of the restaurant, the outer world has come to us and this aspect of it is something we don’t like. Something we strongly dislike even – but which we cannot help or change except for making small changes in our own surrounding.

There are small children who are simply hungry, waiting for their parents to order and then get food. They get impatient, cannot sit still and play with the cutlery, the cloth napkins and crockery. Sometimes there is only the threat: ‘Stop it now or I will hit you!’, ‘Keep on doing this and you will get slapped!’ and so on. More than that, we can see the action right away: a slap in the face, on the hands, on the buttocks. And then talk just goes on.

It is normal, for everyone around them, too. Just we are sitting there with the feeling that we want to object, that we want to jump in and protect the child. The urge to tell them not to do this in our restaurant. In the end however, we are the ones who seem strange here. The ones who do it differently.

After all, our guests are all educated people. While the parents of our school children were from what society would call a ‘lower class’, we are speaking here about the upper middle and higher classes.

This, my dear readers, is culture. It is one of the dark aspects of our culture. I hope it will vanish someday. We will keep working against it anyway and just hope that others will follow so that we will see the day on which no child is hit in our restaurant!

Some Children have Difficulty learning – but Violence won’t change that! – 24 Sep 15

Yesterday I told you that many people here in India don’t believe that spanking or an occasional slap in the face is something wrong or bad for your child. Neither at home, not at school. I explained why this attitude is simply wrong. What teachers don’t realize is that teaching and school is about much more than just marks, exams and a written result in figures. It is about raising children to responsible adults that will make valuable parts of our society, country and world. And you won’t succeed with that in an atmosphere of fear!

We all know that we are not all the same. We get born with different genes and everyone has different talents and abilities. This means that some of us have a predisposition to learn quickly and absorb any kind of information without problem. Others however don’t, they need a visual illustration to understand, they need repetition of this information or another context to actually remember.

You won’t be able to help them by scaring and threatening them. By treating the thirty to fifty children in your class with one stick, beating those who cannot repeat word by word what you have taught them. On the contrary, you make them afraid, nervous and focused on the negative consequence instead of what they should be learning. You bring them pain for not remembering what they tried to learn.

It is not the child’s fault! He is not being weak in learning by intention. And it is not a crime to have difficulty learning – hitting children however, is a crime! Don’t you see your failure to teach? Don’t you see that you did not fulfill your duty? It is your job to teach all the children of your class and you just try to beat information into those who don’t manage to take in information as quickly as others.

The best that you can get in this way is a mindless parroting, a senseless repetition of words but not of their meaning. Children will forget them quickly – because you didn’t teach them profoundly, you didn’t show them the value of it. You forced them to learn instead of showing them the beauty of learning. Your violence will create violence in them, aggression up to the point that they will hurt themselves or others.

Much more than anything that they will repeat in tests however, it is important to teach them how to treat another human being, how to discuss peacefully, how to solve conflicts, how to communicate one’s feelings and opinions and how to accept another person’s point of view as well. School is supposed to help children become good humans!