There Can Be No Nobler Training than That

“You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken. . . . Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?

We cannot. . . . Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts. . . .

Then will our youth dwell in a land of health, amid fair sights and sounds, and receive the good in everything; and beauty, the effluence of fair works, shall flow into the eye and ear, like a health-giving breeze from a purer region, and insensibly draw the soul from the earliest years into likeness and sympathy with the beauty of reason.

There can be no nobler training than that.”

– Plato’s Republic (as quoted in The Book of Virtues, A Treasury of Great Moral Stories)

The President and Bedtime Story

Man of the people. Joko Widodo is the first President of Indonesia to come from outside the political establishment. Pic: AFP/ROMEO GACAD Source: AFP

Man of the people. Joko Widodo is the first President of Indonesia to come from outside the political establishment. Pic: AFP/ROMEO GACAD Source: AFP

photo source:

Yesterday, 22 July 2014, was monumental for the history of Indonesia. A new president has been elected, and it was no ordinary.


Because the newly elected leader, Mr. Joko Widodo (better known as Jokowi) is an ordinary man. He is no political elite. He does not have big moneys to back his political campaign. In fact, he was a slum child, poor peasant. Someone probably like you and me. And worse (well, take that as ‘better’ in fact hehe) he has always been known for his clean and anti-corrupt reputation during his 7 years of serving as Mayor in Solo and 2 years as the Governor of Jakarta before running for presidency.

Not an Indonesian soul would have dreamed that this so-ordinary man would make his way to the Istana Negara! Not in a country where corruptions and bribes and dirty plays are the very rules of the politic game!

And yet, today Indonesia wakes up to a new light,new hope. If a Jokowi can be president, everyone can be too.

Honesty. Hard work. Integrity. The love for the people, and the country. All these values, this ‘naive-ness’, which we thought would never find a place in the politics, have in fact brought a Jokowi to the top post.

Yesterday, when the result was officially announced, I was reminded of my own skeptical thinking when I read my daughter her bedtime story sometime ago. It was the story of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most beloved presidents in the history of United States of America, the “Honest Old Abe”. The story is truly beautiful so please allow me to read to you too 🙂


Honest Abe
Retold by Horatio Alger

It is surely no accident that the two most beloved American presidents, Washington and Lincoln, possessed a proverbial honesty. The following stories come from Horatio Alger’s Abraham Lincoln, The Backwoods Boy, published in 1883. (Alger, in turn, is drawing from earlier works.) The tales remind us that honesty in private life makes honesty in public office. More important, they show us that habits of a truthful heart begin early in life.

The Young Storekeeper

As a clerk he proved honest and efficient, and my readers will be interested in some illustrations of the former trait which I find in Dr. Holland’s interesting volume.

One day a woman came into the store and purchased sundry articles. They footed up two dollars and six and a quarter cents, or the young clerk thought they did. We do not hear nowadays of six and a quarter cents, but this was a coin borrowed from the Spanish currency, and was well known in my own boyhood.

The bill was paid, and the woman was entirely satisfied. But the young storekeeper, not feeling quite sure as to the accuracy of his calculation, added up the items once more. To this dismay he found that the sum total should have been but two dollars.

“I’ve made her pay six and a quarter cents too much,” said Abe, disturbed.

It was a trifle, and many clerks would have dismissed it as such. But Abe was too conscientious for that.

“The money must be paid back,” he decided.

This would have been easy enough had the woman lived “just round the corner,” but, as the young man knew, she lived between two and three miles away. This, however, did not alter the matter. It was night, but he closed and locked the store, and walked to the residence of his customer. Arrived there, he explained the matter, paid over the six and a quarter cents, and returned satisfied. If I were a capitalist, I would be willing to lend money to such a young man without security.

Here is another illustration of young Lincoln’s strict honesty:

A woman entered the store and asked for half a pound of tea.

The young clerk weighed it out, and handed it to her in a parcel. This was the last sale of the day.

The next morning, when commencing his duties, Abe discovered a four-ounce weight on the scales. it flashed upon him at once that he had used this in the sale of the night previous, and so, of course, given his customer short weight. I am afraid that there are many country merchants who would not have been much worried by this discovery. Not so the young clerk in whom we are interested. He weighed out the balance of the half pound, shut up the store, and carried it to the defrauded customer. I think my young readers will begin to see that the name so often given, in later times to President Lincoln, of “Honest Old Abe,” was well deserved. A man who begins by strict honesty in his youth is not likely to change as he grows older, and mercantile honesty is some guarantee of political honesty.

– The Book of Virtues, pp. 620-621


Months ago, the story above would be just that to me, a bedtime story. But Jokowi has proven me wrong.

Yesterday, the world witnessed that Honesty is still of great value. Today, I can tell my kid “Be honest, be a president someday!”

The First Baby Panic

Somebaby is amused with the safe buttons :)

Somebaby is amused with the safe buttons 🙂

It has been a busy week for us. Entirely due to Baby being down with fever, which ended up with her being hospitalized. Yes, it was quite bad.

So, here it was.

The whole episode started on one fine Monday. Baby was done with her nap and her body felt quite warm to me. Took her temperature, mild fever. She continued being her usual self, playing and all, just like her. That night she woke up once, crying, still with slightly high temperature and so we gave her a dose of paracetamol to ease her back to sleep.

Came Tuesday and her fever got worse. I had to ask Hubby for support back at home. Baby was cranky, not eager to move around and demanded to be carried all day. That late afternoon she had her first febrile seizures. We were thrown into a panic state, seeing her unconscious with both limbs stiff and twitching, and foams secreting from the mouth. We rushed her to the emergency right away, Baby was in delirium and I couldn’t help but cry through out the journey.

The diagnosis was a simple febrile fits/seizures (the word simple put us at rest greatly, really.) She, however, needed to be admitted because of her young age (below 18 months old). This was to ensure there would not be another episode of fits in the short span of time i.e. 48 hours. With nurses constantly checking on and paracetamol continuously given, she managed to clear the 48 hours fits free.

Now, having experienced the above, here are some take-away lessons for me:

1. Do away with unsound thermometer, you need to trust your motherly instinct.

The cause of the fits, in our case, was the body temperature rising to more than 39C. We did suspect her fever was way too high by feeling her body heat but the thermometer gave us 37.8C which we took as a more reliable data. When we realized that the gadget had gone wrong, it was already too late.

2. Sticking to natural remedies are all good but as in everything, always do it with discernment.

I had inhibitions for the use of fever-reducing medicine such as paracetamol and the likes which are feared to be hard on livers (especially on the young ones’). This was also one of the reasons why the fever went out of hand, we were slow with the paracetamol. But I will not be as hesitant the next time fever hits. It is not to say that over-the-counter-medicine is always the answer.It does, however, have a more immediate effect and when the situation demands for such promptness, it might be just the best option. Often, the benefits outweigh the risk. In our case, Baby ended up being constantly on paracetamol for almost the whole week as it is crucial to keep her temperature below 38C to avoid another episode of fits.

3. When fits hits, stay calm and pay attention to these things:

  • Lay the child down on flat and soft surface such as mattress. Remove any tight clothing. Do not put anything into the child’s mouth as it can block the airway crucial for breathing. Don’t worry, tongue biting doesn’t happen in children.
  • Time the duration of the fits, a simple febrile fits usually lasts for five minutes or less. If it is more than 10 minutes, it imposes some risk of damage on the brain. This is because fits causes breathing problem (breathing might be completely obstructed during the fits) which deprives the brain of oxygen.
  • The twitching of both arms and legs, on both sides. A simple febrile fits will cause both limbs on both sides to twitch. One sided twitching of limbs could imply underlying problem with the brain or nerve.
  • During a simple febrile fits, the eyes should be staring blankly in straight direction. They should not be rolling up or to either side.
  • The child can be sponged during the fits in attempt to bring down the fever. Do it with lukewarm water and not ice cold water.
  • If this is the first time the child experiences fits, call the doctor immediately. Febrile fits happens normally to children between 6 months to 6 years of age.

We were discharged from the hospital after staying for two nights. Her fever lasted for another three more days but was on the good trend of recovering. I have one active 15 month old back in the house now, still with runny nose and cough but happy. 🙂

Thank God really!