In the good old days, I used to hear my grandfather tell my father: Strong eyes and soft hands." He was referring to the way my father reacted to any misbehavior or rule violations committed by me or any of my brothers. My father's reactions were sometimes physical. He used his hands as a weapon and any object close to him as ammunition.My grandfather kept reminding him: "Strong eyes and soft hands." By this he meant: Express your dissatisfaction and anger, but do not resort to physical punishment. Although my grandfather was illiterate and had never gone to school, his approach to discipline matched what most educators and parents preach today.
This brings me to another saying of my forefathers that I consider the best approach to fighting crime and maintaining security in any town or city: "Open your eyes and sharpen your knife."
Today, our eyes are opened by means of the large number of hidden cameras in the streets and malls, and by the presence of alert security officers in civilian clothes in all the places where people's safety might be endangered. "Sharpen your knife" means: Maintain a well-equipped, well-trained, and zero-tolerance security force and legal system. "Open eyes" will spot the criminal-to-be in time, and a "sharp knife" means he will be caught, tried and punished without any doubt of guilt and without delay.
Maintaining security in towns and cities is going to be a higher priority as the world becomes flatter and smaller, and information is only a finger-push away. We have recently seen the need for enhanced security in Boston and London, and who knows how many other places need it too. The present trend of increasing crime and security threats is making people prisoners of fear, but people can only live normally when they are free of fear. Communities therefore need to "open their eyes" not only to criminals-to-be, but, equally importantly, to the mentally disordered, drug addicts, and even excessively-drunk people in bars.
Maybe it's time to go back and review some of the forgotten social norms and wisdom of past generations. They may well offer valuable clues to solving a range of problems facing us today.