26 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
do not rob, if we do not kill, it is .because we love peace, because the natural trend of our lives leads us forward, leading us ever farther and more definitely away from the peril of low and evil acts.
Without going into the ethical or metaphysical aspects of the question, we may safely affirm that the delinquent before he transgresses the law, has, if he hnows of the existence of a punishment, felt the threatening weight of the criminal code upon him. He has defied it, or he has been lured into the crime, deluding himself with the idea that he would be able to avoid the punishment of the law. But there has occurred within his mind, a struggle between the crime and the punishment. Whether it be efficacious in hindering crime or not, this penal code is undoubtedly made for a very limited class of individuals; namely, criminals. The enormous majority of citizens are honest without any regard whatever to the threats of the law.
The real punishment of normal man is the loss of the consciousness of that individual power and greatness which are the sources of his inner life. Such a punishment often falls upon men in the fullness of success. A man whom we would consider crowned by happiness and fortune may be suffering from this form of punishment. Far too often man does not see the real punishment which threatens him.
And it is just here that education may help.
To-day we hold the pupils in school, restricted by those instruments so degrading to body and spirit, the desk — and material prizes and punishments. Our aim in all this is to reduce them to the discipline of immobility and silence,— to lead them,— where? Far too often toward no definite end.