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Monday, October 2, 2006

The Lost Tribe


Dr. Lester CN Simon

Everyone who carries a knife, a gun, or other implements of violence should take a course in human anatomy. They should know the precise location of the heart; that it is on the left side of the chest and so close to the chest wall they can feel the beating hearts of their victims if they embrace them. They should know that a knife with a long blade is not necessary because to get to the heart you simply have to pierce the skin, the fat beneath the skin and then the muscle, including the muscle covering the space between neighboring ribs.

Those who walk with knives should know that the heart and the beginning of one of its major blood vessels, the aorta, are surrounded by a protective membrane called the pericardium. The space between the pericardium and the underlying heart is called the pericardial sac. They should know that a wound to the heart or to the invested root of the aorta can cause profuse bleeding into the pericardial sac. This blood can seal off or plug the wound to the pericardium so that the blood leaking out of the beating heart does not escape from the sac.

However, as the pierced heart continues to beat, blood escaping from the heart is trapped inside the pericardial sac. The end result of this is that the bleeding heart is crushed to death by the weight of the blood. This plug of blood which was intended to plug a leak and ended up squeezing the heart to death is called a cardiac tamponade. In some ways, it acts as a tampon. A cardiac tamponade must be a metaphor for craziness when it occurs in a young female who has just started to acquire experience in the use of tampons for menstruation.

We know all the causes of violence. We can rattle off the solutions as well. In all this clatter we still fail to make a serious dent in the problem. Maybe we should rethink our strategy. Putting the blame on the parents is right and proper but there are two types of parents in this regard. Some parents will circle the wagons around their children and the children of their extended family and friends. Other parents and their children will be locked outside like a posse of wild West Indians. Mentoring is part of the solution but who will set this up so that the mentor can be a mentor and not an organizer of the mentoring programme? And how will we really know what lies in the dark minds of some mentors. Moreover, those most in need of mentoring will be left out.

Regardless of what we do at home, it is at school that children come together. But we have a problem here as well. We need well trained teachers who can teach their subjects well and who can make teaching fun and exciting and teach the children outside the classroom. Everyone recalls their schooldays and talks glowingly of the things they did and did not do. Do not listen to those liars, except for one fact: Remember the days when teacher was absent from class and how the rudest, most misbehaving child commanded the class (even better than the teacher)?

Children must be given exciting things to do. They are bored stiff and if we do not rectify this they will be bored stiff (if you pardon the pun). We have to arrange the school day and the time spent in the community so that children can take charge of some of their activities, with parents acting as linesmen (not as referees) as in a football match.

Children know that the economy of violence acts dictates that they do not kill two birds with two stones when one stone will do. As they gain experience and perfect the art and science of violence they know that it is uneconomical to kill two birds with one stone when they can set the birds upon each other. Children will always challenge each other for all sorts of reasons. We did it; they are doing it and it will always happen. We must prepare and present the environment in which they live and learn and play so that they can challenge each other in exciting but non-fatal ways.

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