OPINION

Commentary

My eldest daughter went to school. She is learning, these days, that her participation in this small community requires more money than the amount she has for her snacks at the school canteen. Monday has been set aside as a day for collecting money for poor children. It’s a tender goal. Private initiative supplements an inadequate welfare state. In this spirit, children in the first year of primary school are taught that whichever class collects the greatest sum will win. Does this make sense? It obviously does, as competition is the fundamental principle of survival in a world where compassion is also a free-market good. I dared to tell her that aid for those who are in greater need than we are should be voluntary; to explain that the money which will be pooled has to be set aside out of what we intended to spend at the canteen; that the mite of love is the mite which we will have to do without. No! replied my old-young daughter. It is compulsory, and as a proof she explained that her teacher, the headmaster, the physical education and maths teachers had all said the same thing. I claimed the right to hold a different opinion from that of the respected group which has undertaken to educate this serious child. What do you know? she shot back without hesitation. You are no teacher. I had- and still have – big dreams for my little daughter. In a few words, I want her to have the freedom of choice; a choice based on knowledge and feeling. I want her to be capable of respecting traditions and of establishing rules which will make life for her generation better than the one that we shall bequeath. I still believe that decent, free and well-organized education will determine the future of our societies more than the rigid rules which dominate money transactions will. It is likely that my daughter misunderstood. Again, maybe she grasped something that her teachers had never said but nevertheless suits the times.