The relevance of Kahlil Gibran’s Prophet today

Image for post
Image for post
Source : Google photo

I often read The Prophet and find inspirations in every page and wonder if everyone read his book and followed the philosophy in real life, the world would be a far better place than it is today’

Sadly this is not true as many people have never even heard of Kahlil Gibran let alone read his most famous book . The words in the Prophet are more than beautiful.They are very meaningful and applicable today in one’s life if only people could understand it’s deep meanings and pure thoughts .They are also very plain and direct in a way that goes straight to the heart of the reader. I am particularly impressed by the chapter on Children and on Giving so I will quote a few lines here from both the chapters and later explain their relevance today in our lives.

On Children “ Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you can not visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them ,but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday”

I have seen time and again the parents trying to mold their children in their own fashion and according to their beliefs often with punishment if the children defy them. The cultural indoctrination starts as soon as the kid is born. In Hindu culture the kid is given talismans that they tie around the waist of the kid to ward off evil eyes. They put a dab of kohl on the forehead for the same reason. They do not give a proper name to the kid for one year due to some blind belief so the hospitals leave the name blank in the birth certificate causing problems later on.

Then starts the religious indoctrination when the kid is a bit older. The moslems send their kids to madrasas that teach them how to read Arabic so that they can learn to read Koran . I have seen how the mollahs beat innocent children with canes if they fail to recite Koran properly so the emphasis very early is on religion and not anything else because other knowledge like math and science or geography is secondary . These madrasas also teach hate to make these children the future talibans .

The Hindus do a bit better and send the kids to proper schools for a proper education so the religion as such is not emphasized but they try to guide the kids to become doctors or engineers later even if the kids do not have the aptitude or intelligence or even desire to be one.

Very few parents want to know what the kid wants to do in life ,what his interests are and give the helping hand to make them achieve their goals based on their interests. The main focus on their education seems to be able to earn a good living because money is the mark of success in most societies.

Girls come in second in the priority list for parents at least in most of Asia and the middle east where the emphasis is on marriage later on that does not require a lot of education. It is true that the girls now a days are breaking out of that system and are proving to be high achievers in practically all fields of education .They are becoming excellent doctors, engineers, computer experts, teachers and even pilots flying combat jets in the air force or jumbo jets in the private sector but this is a recent phenomenon. They often come from families where their mothers are uneducated and the father is a low wage earner. Middle class girls do better in most countries.

The Prophet says :

You may strive to be like them ,but seek not to make them like you.

In some countries they give a very low priority to female education and the terrorists blow up their schools or kill the innocent girls just because of their mistaken beliefs that girls should not be educated because it perverts their minds and they may start questioning the ills of their society or religion . No society can grow without educating the girls and no society can overcome it’s backward and primitive culture unless the children are taught to question the dictates of mollahs or priests who preach something that is not compatible with the modern world. But it takes courage to stand up to these cruel people so the little girls shed tears and go back home when their schools are blown up by the terrorists until a Malala comes along . You may strive to be like them but seek not to make them like you but that is a great challenge to authority that they can not tolerate.

The Prophet says :

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you.

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

I find these words very illuminating because they are so true . Just ask how many couples make babies just because they want to welcome a child and the answer will surprise you. Women get pregnant with or without marriage just because of the hormones playing havoc with their bodies starting at a certain age which has nothing to do with clear thinking or a rational mind let alone morality.

The teen age pregnancy among the black women,latinos or others in the US is like an epidemic making them drop out of school at an early age causing all kinds of social problems . They are euphemistically called the single mothers raising illegitimate children just because they can not control their urges driven by raging hormones and pay the consequence ending up in poverty and depending on low paying jobs or social services . Such children often grow up with bad habits, drugs, violence and end up later in jails or worse.

Now if a couple who had a stable home,jobs and a safe environment and wanted to bring a child to this world where he or she would be given all the love, care and help to grow up to be a healthy beautiful child ,that child would have a far greater success in life than the illegitimate child of a single woman who drinks, probably takes drugs and survives somehow but who is unable to give the kind of support the child needs to succeed in life later on.

So all parents have a responsibility toward a child who totally depends on his/her parents until he/she becomes independent if indeed (and that is a big if) because it is required of them.The neglect of a child is a criminal offense in most societies .In some countries the state takes over the welfare of the child because the parents can not or will not take care and do their duties. In poorer countries where such children are born everyday in very large numbers of parents who are too poor or have other problems become a terrible burden to the society because no one cares for them and they grow up on streets trying to survive using their wits or using very limited ability to survive. You often see children as young as two or three begging at street corners while other children sell newspapers, flowers or cigarettes to earn a pittance that their greedy parents on drugs then take away.

The drug addiction among children in Afghanistan and other war torn countries are high and so is the child prostitution and violence perpetrated on them because there is no social safety net and their government fails them in providing the safety and security they need. Their social services are poorly funded and what little remains disappears into the pockets of corrupt officials.

What is the future of such children when they grow up on whom the society has given up? Who will provide for them the kind of future they all deserve and grow up like other normal children? My heart goes out to innocent children in India and Pakistan where they are sold as slaves to the brick makers but there is no respite from them and no one to force the rescue of such children and put the slave masters in jail . Very small children are forced in Iran and many countries in the region to make carpets that are then sold in Europe or other countries at high prices but you would never buy a carpet if you knew how these poor children are beaten, poorly fed and forced to work under very inhuman conditions.

Can a country go forward where such children are neglected and who then grow up to be drug addicts, prostitutes , thieves and social deviants ? Does anyone really want to be a drug addict, a prostitute or a social deviant willingly ? I am sure these neglected children also want food everyday and a decent education, clean clothes and a loving home but who provides? Can any society develop that produces mostly maids and servants ? Can any country make progress as a whole where the vast majority of its citizens remain illiterate or have a fifth grade education or less?

The Cuban revolution remains a bright spot in the annals of human history where the promises made were kept and where the education was made mandatory resulting in 95% literacy rate, where everyone gets the best medical care in the world free of charge and where the poor were given land of their own making the land reform there a great success story. But the propaganda of the capitalist countries including the United States paint a very different picture of Cuba and have blocked that great country economically for a very long time because Cuba refused to play by their rules.

Now I want to write about another matter that the Prophet says:

There are those who give little of the much which they have — and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

You give but little when you give of your possessions.It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. All you have shall some day be given.Therefore give now,that the reason of giving may be yours and not your inheritors.

And you receivers-and you are all receivers-assume no weight of gratitude,lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free hearted earth for mother and God for father.”

Let me expand a bit on this topic of duty and giving . As I wrote earlier, all parents have a duty towards their children who were born due to their desire to have children and not because children wanted to be born. If the children had any choice in the matter, many would refuse to be born into poverty, illegitimacy and to drug addict parents who are irresponsible to boot.

So all parents have a responsibility to raise their children properly . But when they start thinking that they are doing a favor to the kids raising them and should one day make them pay for it, it becomes unworthy of them.

It reminds me of the famous dialogue in the Godfather movie where the Godfather says “Consider it as a gift on the day of my daughter’s wedding but a time may come some day when you may have to repay this favor. “

Now imagine a culture where the parents expect and demand from the daughters and sons money, car or tickets to visit them specially if they are abroad and think of it as pay back time for what they have done for them and you will understand what values they hold dear in their lives . When these kids come home, they are expected to bring big boxes full of gifts for everyone, pay for large parties that the poor relatives are eager to organize for them and even ask for “loans” to help them out of their poverty.These loans are seldom paid back.

So it all comes down to values. If you demand pay back for anything you have done for anyone in your life then it degrades the help you gave because it was with strings attached. The best help is when you do it selflessly.If the parents behave in a such a way towards their own children and make the kids feel that they have an obligation then it beats the purpose of parenting . Parents love should be altruistic and not be like Godfather’s.

So the Prophet says:

And you receivers-and you are all receivers-assume no weight of gratitude,lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free hearted earth for mother and God for father.”

The children really do not owe their parents anything other than love and respect. People say that love and respect should be earned but Confucius says otherwise. All parents should be respected if not loved because parenting is a huge task most parents take on willingly and go through hardships themselves but never complain. Those are the ideal parents.

Written by

I am the village bard who loves to share his stories.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store