The Broken People

“Discipline isn’t a dirty word. Far from it. Discipline is the one thing that separates us from chaos and anarchy. Discipline implies timing. It’s the precursor to good behaviour, and it never comes from bad behaviour. People who associate discipline with punishment are wrong: with discipline, punishment is unnecessary.”  Buck Brannaman


The film “Buck” follows real-life horse-whisperer Buck Brannaman as he tours the country giving 4-day training clinics to horses with people problems.

The violence of his childhood, being whipped by his father and living in constant fear of him, didn’t break his spirit.

Last week I wrote about The First Seven Years – which is the period when we are programmed with the emotional skills necessary to survive in the world. Buck’s life was transformed when he and his brother were taken into foster care and treated with love and respect. Meeting his utterly adorable foster mother in the film shows how in “nature vs nurture” the right kind of nurture can turn everything around, even after the first seven years!

He can relate to the full spectrum of emotion and his choices have defined an exceptional life. As he says, “You can’t live in two places at once. Don’t live in the past.”

His horse-training method of mutual respect extends to the humans – and unsurprisingly it turns out that it’s the humans that benefit most from the training clinics he runs.

“As a rider, you must slowly and methodically show your horse what is appropriate. You also have to discourage what’s inappropriate, not by making the inappropriate impossible, but by making it difficult so that the horse himself chooses appropriate behavior. You can’t choose it for him; you can only make it difficult for him to make the wrong choices. If, however, you make it impossible for him to make the wrong choices, you’re making war.”

Anger is a weakness of character and resorting to it will cause a scared animal or person to shut down.

By using fear and intimidation a relationship is deprived of mutual respect. Yet that is the preferred method of manipulation, or breaking-in, used in our society. Fear of failure, of judgement and punishment, is ingrained from a young age. As Buck says “It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s not okay to be afraid of making mistakes.”

Every choice we make is an emotional choice, and if that emotion boils down to fear then we are short-changing ourselves and everyone in our lives.

True creative expression, with no need to defend or explain, cannot be based on fear.

“Some day someone will come along and hug you so hard that all your broken pieces will stick back together.”



Photo credit:  Tess Parker / Melbourne graffiti

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