Even in the most popular translation or understanding, we have to make a bit differentiated meaning: discipline could mean “teaching” in the sense of a unit of learning materials. More practical than “teaching”, it means even “instruction”; more theoretically, it means “education”.
On the other side of the story, discipline refers to various training a person should undergo in order to study or learn something. But systematically, discipline leads us to science in such a way that the relationship between various sciences could be translated into “interdisciplinarity”.
In some areas, discipline leads us also to various ways to chastise a person who does not work or act according to the right procedure or attitude. A young military soldier could reap many disciplines if he or she does not work properly. To write scientifically, a student should follow the proper academic tradition, otherwise he or she is accused of “working without enough discipline”, which could cost him or her a diploma.
Some ages ago, in a cloister, discipline could have a much more physical meaning. A transgression or inappropriate act could be understood that a person is ready to lose one or two meals. It is also called discipline.
Let us take the primary word, disciplina. It consists of two different words: discere and plenus-a-um-(adverb). Discere means learn. Plenus-a-um means full or fully. Disciplina or discipline means “learn fully” in the strict meaning of the word. It means also continuous learning to enable a person to always learn, until he or she knows fully.
How does it correlate with the present situation?
It has always been difficult for motorists to learn traffic regulations, especially when they easily change. For several weeks we have to learn together to discipline ourselves, drive our vehicles better and pay more attention to new traffic regulations. And then the police always checks whether people comply with the traffic rules.
[...] very often we forgive ourselves, pretending that we have no time to follow such protocols.
In this time of a pandemic, we recall what our parents told us when we were children about why we had to wash our hands and how. We were told to wash our hands as soon as we finished playing outside and before a meal.
We consider a hospital as a place where viruses concentrate, which is why we may contract a virus when visiting a hospital. To prevent an infection, we need to maintain the usual discipline that requires us to clean our hands, feet and clothes, but very often we forgive ourselves, pretending that we have no time to follow such protocols.
The blessing in disguise of the pandemic, however, goes to families. People have found thousands of excuses to leave their homes; they work, meet their clients and multiply their savings at the expense of their children.
When we start a family, we promise to fill our whole life with love for them, but we have de-learned it and the coronavirus has made us realize this. We stay at home and spend a lot of time talking with our spouse and children and restoring our relationship with our loved ones. The pandemic has forced us to discipline ourselves, to come back to our loved ones and to learn with our family members about how to build a happy family.
When the normalcy “returns”, we have to remember that our family is our most important treasure in the world. There are many ways to translate our love for our family, such as by restructuring our life in our family.
We need our community, our business circle and even the state as our so-called educational institutes to discipline ourselves. They help us discern whether or not we have treated our family as the most important part of our life.
We may have to reformulate our behavior in our married life to enable children to learn from a better primary education in life. To realize this, we need genuine and truthful disciplina. In other words, we have to learn fully.
Lecturer at Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Jakarta, and author of Belajar Mendidik (Learn to educate), 2019
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.