Chapter 21: Personality: The Carbon Cop-out
So I had to take my father, and he had to follow, persuading me all the way: “Leave it. It is not such a big thing; he simply mentioned by the way that you misbehaved.”
I said, “That is not the question. He has to say it in front of me. This is backbiting. He is mischievous.”
And when the principal saw that I was coming with my father, he again became afraid that there was, it seemed, some more trouble. And I said to him, “Now you tell my father what I have done, and what you have done: saying behind my back to my father that I have been misbehaving, doing mischief, insulting you before the whole school. Repeat it! - because I don’t agree with any of it.
“You have insulted me by not answering my argument. Not only that, you wanted to beat me. Not only that, you are a coward: you could not even beat me. Now, this is very slimy, that you go around and tell my father. You prove it - that it was mischief.
“In fact, all the nations that have been proclaiming themselves the best nation in the world are mischievous. Their mischief has accounted for millions of lives; the whole of history is full of it, and still we go on doing the same thing.
“Small children are being told to repeat every day something which is absolute nonsense, and unrealistic too. There is no fact supporting it. A country which has been a slave for two thousand years cannot say, ‘In the whole world we are the best’ - the best slaves, or what? A country which is ninety percent poor, where one meal is difficult.
“There are days when millions of people in India sleep only by drinking water, just to keep the feeling that the stomach is full. This is the best country in the world! - whom are you trying to befool? These children will become conditioned to the idea. This is a strategy of the politicians: that tomorrow these children will become soldiers, and they will die for the ‘best country of the world,’ not even knowing that this is not true.
“And even if it is factual, then too it is egoistic, and it should not be a prayer. Accepting, just for the sake of argument, that it is true - that one country is the best in the world, the richest, the most well-educated, well-cultured, has everything that is needed so all the facts support it - still I say such a prayer is wrong, because a prayer should not be ego-fulfilling, a prayer should be ego-destroying.”
The principal said to me, “Forgive me, and please forget it, and I hope that we will never come into any conflict again.”
I said, “That depends on you. If you behave, and you promise to behave, perhaps the situation may not arise. Was it not possible for you to accept my argument humbly? - because it was true. Do you think that would have been an insult to you? It would have raised your status before the whole school, that you are a man of some dignity, that you do not hesitate even to respect the right argument from a child, that you respect intelligence.