Dennis Hackethal’s Blog

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Astrid Lindgren’s Never Violence!

Astrid Lindgren was a famous Swedish author of children’s books such as Pippi Longstocking.

Here’s my unauthorized translation of an excerpt from her 1978 German acceptance speech for a peace prize by an association of German book publishers.

But to those who are now calling so loudly for harsher discipline and tighter reins, I would like to relate what an old lady once told me. She was a young mother at a time when people still believed in that biblical saying, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

In her heart of hearts, she probably didn’t believe it, but one day her little boy had done something for which she thought he deserved a beating, the first in his life. She ordered him to go into the yard by himself and look for a stick, which he was to bring to her. The little boy went and was gone for a long time. Finally, he came back crying and said, “I couldn’t find a stick, but here’s a rock for you to throw at me.”

But then the mother also began to cry, because suddenly she saw everything through the child’s eyes. The child must have thought, “My mother really wants to hurt me, and she can do that just as well with a rock.”

She hugged her little boy, and they cried together for a while. Then she placed the rock on a shelf in the kitchen, and there it remained as a permanent reminder of the promise she had made to herself in that hour: “NEVER VIOLENCE!”

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