afraid childThe other day while in church, I saw this kid; he’d dropped his mom’s lip balm’s lid and it had rolled to the ‘run way’ between the two rows. After looking for it for a while, he finally spotted it. He walked towards it, but when he came to the edge of the pew, it hit him that he would have to walk a little bit more to the center so he could reach it. Unlike other kids who’ve been in his situation uncountable times before, I noticed, to my disappointment that he retreated.

First he slightly hid behind the lady standing at the edge, trying to look at the congregation opposite him, I guess to see if there was anyone looking at him… finally he retreated completely… I bet his courage failed him. Worse still, I doubt if he recovered the lid because shortly after we all stood to take our offering and I’m almost certain, people kicked it under one of the pews…

In a similar situation- while still in church- I noticed that one of the altar boys’ candle went out. Naturally he would have walked over to the altar and lit it with one of the two candles; the one from his side precisely… but no, he couldn’t master enough courage to do that. Instead, he just covered it with his palm as though shielding it from strong wind, so people wouldn’t notice it had gone off. I was torn between disappointment and pity: disappointed because I had hoped he would light it and pitied him at the same time because I understood him. It’s difficult to do the right things at times, when you know all eyes are on you. Ever tried walking in an open space when you know everyone’s gaze fixed on you? Legs feel wobbly, knees buckle… it’s frustrating!

I would want to imagine that this is one of the factors that influenced Elton mayo- a professor at the Harvard Business school- who’s known as the father of Hawthorne Studies, into identifying the Hawthorne effect as a phenomenon that occurs when an individual alters their performance or behaviour due to the awareness that they’re being observed. The change may be positive or negative, and depends on the situation.

I would bet a million dollars that he and the other altar boys were taught in catechism the significance of that light; ergo, he knew that failing to light it wasn’t an option. He gave in to his fear regardless. I couldn’t castigate him; because I’m only too familiar with the predicament he was in… the best of us have been in that position more than once. I just said a prayer on his behalf; that our Good Lord may grant him the courage to do what’s right; strength to overcome his fear; fear could be crippling.   

I’m not a parent yet, but I thought parents should closely monitor their kids’ behaviour so they can do whatever adjustments that need to be done so they can mould them into young, brave, responsible adults. If such, issues aren’t addressed, we risk them growing into fearful, people; and let’s face it, with all the problems in the world, the last thing we need is another fearful person.


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