This weekend as I was leaving a prominent lifestyle store at a mall, I stood shocked as the security guard at the exit stopped a young (innocent looking) teenager. Immediately a senior store representative also joined him and they asked him something. Within minutes they were checking his pockets and some stuff fell off his pant pockets amidst severe protest from the youngster. The store personnel were going about their job with methodical efficiency with interjection of sharp words and gestures. After a short while, the youngster was taken away from the scene to somewhere inside the store – and to my surprise what I saw in the youngster’s face was not remorse but defiance.
It didn’t look like he was in want of any basic needs and those items that fell from his pockets were far from basic. He also did not come across as an experienced shoplifter from the way he got nabbed. His face still had not lost its innocence or childishness.
What would have forced him to do it? Sheer pleasure? Peer pressure? Proving heroic ability? Or would it have been plain wanting on seeing other children flaunting their goodies? Whatever be the reason, the event was definitely disturbing! Though I do not want to take an overtly critical view of the way our society has grown – I would also not want to write-off our responsibility. It is true that in every independent occurrence of error, there is a failure of societal functioning.
However, while the episode by itself is disturbing – what impacted me more was our reaction/response to it.
What should be our focus when we address such misdemeanours? Should our efforts be in making the miscreant realise we are smarter than him? Or should our efforts be in ensuring he realises the futility of his act and refrains consciously from repeating it in future?
By treating the youth who in all probability is a first timer, in a manner befitting a habitual thief – are we not triggering the emotion of anger rather than a genuine misgiving?
I wanted to highlight this as the age at which people start involving in un-social activities is dropping and the acts intensifying. And we cannot correct the system with threats and punishments. We have to get back to our basics of facilitating understanding of the error, experience of remorse and appreciating possible alternatives
What are we creating out of our next generation? What are we creating for our next generation? These are questions we should ask ourselves individually and collectively….