Teach for India Diaries 18: Don’t take what ain’t yours!

What do you do when someone takes something that doesn’t belong to them?

Every single day in class there is always some child who runs up to me with complaints about losing something -a pencil, an eraser, a sharpener, a book etc. More often than not the case is that of the child simply misplacing it. But often enough it is found that some children have taken things that don’t belong to them.

 As I battle with the rules and consequences of ‘a child taking something that doesn’t belong to him/her’, I often think about all the times it happens in life. To us, to someone you know and someone you don’t know.

Over the many years of my existence, I have had someone take something that belonged to me! My camera at a bus stop, my cell phone a week later at the same bus stop on the opposite side, and more recently my favourite wallet with all my money, cards and identification. The hell that you experience following the events are a blur, police station visits for a simple FIR, reapplying for all the identifications, replaying the incident in your mind over and over again wishing you had done something differently, and of course the constant nightmares for a few days post the incident. It has happened to all of us at one point or the other. We have known people whose houses have been ransacked of precious belongings.  We know small municipal offices where people take money that doesn’t belong to them. We know about private organizations infested with corruption which is again a form of taking something that doesn’t belong to them. And then my mind whizzed off to a totally new scale of ‘taking something that doesn’t belong to them’. Colonization by the British empire- taking wealth from almost all nations in the world, until more recently seemingly ’ too big to get bust’ banks taking money that doesn’t belong to them. It also makes me thing about giant corporations that employ more subtle methods of ‘taking away something from masses that doesn’t belong to them’ – health, peace of mind and the will to survive. Then you think about bigger things like, bigger governments and global organizations almost always forcing smaller nations to give away things that they don’t want to part with.

As my mind spiraled from the micro to the macro situations, I realized that it all begins with the child. It all begins at home and school. If, as siblings we are told to not take things that don’t belong to us, perhaps Apple and Samsung would not be suing each other over intellectual property. Instead if we were taught the value of ‘sharing responsibly’ and ‘being fair’, we would see more innovation that could provide solutions to the many critical problems our planet faces today. Perhaps if we are taught in schools about the benefits of ‘borrowing’ and ‘returning’ instead of ‘taking something that doesn’t belong to us’, smaller nations would have an equal say in world affairs. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the world itself is the manifestation of our classrooms and homes. All we need to do as teachers and parents is teach how to love, share and be fair, and the world will blossom; someday perhaps no one will dare take something that doesn’t belong to them.

Sharing some pictures of the fabulous times I have had with kids past few days.

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