35. TARES AMONG THE WHEAT
It was at Tolstoy Farm
that Mr. Kallenbach drew my attention to a problem that had never before
struck me. As I have already said, some of the boys at the Farm were bad
and unruly. There were loafers, too, amongst them. With these my three
boys came in daily contact, as also did other children of the same type
as my own sons. This troubled Mr. Kallenbach, but his attention was centred
on the impropriety of keeping my boys with these unruly youngsters.
One day he spoke out: 'Your
way of mixing your own boys with the bad ones does not appeal to me. It
can have only one result. They will become demoralized through this bad
I do not remember whether the
question puzzled me at the moment, but I recollect what I said to him:
'How can I distinguish between
my boys and loafers? I am equally responsible for both. The youngsters
have come because I invited them. If I were to dismiss them with some money,
they would immediately run off to Johannesburg and fall back into their
old ways. To tell you the truth, it is quite likely that they and their
guardians believe that by having come here, they have laid me under an
obligation. That they have to put up with a good deal of inconvenience
here, you and I know very well. But my duty is clear. I must have them
here, and therefore my boys also must needs live with them. And surely
you do not want me to teach my boys to feel from today that they are superior
to other boys. To put that sense of superiority into their heads would
be to lead them astray. This association with other boys will be a good
discipline for them. They will, of their own accord, learn to discriminate
between good and evil. Why should we not believe that if there is really
anything good in them, it is bound to react on their companions? However
that may be, I cannot help keeping them here, and if that means some risk,
we must run it.'
Mr. Kallenbach shook his head.
The result, I think, cannot
be said to have been bad. I do not consider my sons were any the worse
for the experiment. On the contrary I can see that they gained something.
If there was the slightest trace of superiority in them, it was destroyed,
and they learnt to mix with all kinds of children. They were tested and
Children wrapped up in cotton
wool are not always proof against all temptation or contamination. It is
true, however, that, when boys and girls of all kinds of upbringing are
kept and taught together, the parents and the teachers are put to the severest
test. They have constantly to be on the alert.