They are all around us, spinning in front of you as their parents wait in line at the department store, or running around the school yard, and they are the sweet babes in bundles on their mother or father’s back or in their arms. The cherubs coming into the world that all of us adults have made for them. They are the new leaders of tomorrow.
How can we support them, groom them for taking over the stewardship of our societies?
There are two ways that come to my mind. First, we tell them stories, lots of stories, about their family and where they come from, the relatives whose lives give us lessons to learn from. We tell them about the places where they live: what land it is, how the wildlife and soils, and vegetation all blend and work together, and what the needs are of the land on which we live. This lesson is often missed in our modern day societies where people walk above the land like ghosts because no one has instructed them about where they are and how to live there in concert with the natural world –the world to which they belong.
Second, we teach our children values and ways of being that promote compassion, vision, and daring to be all they can be for the sake of not just themselves but for everyone. Children need to know how important they are, in a balanced way, not bravado, but as one who is responsible in the world. This second task of us older folks requires the most important ingredient in the universe, sorely missing most of the time: ENCOURAGEMENT. Yes, we must encourage, not discourage, our children. Even the most sparse comment given freely and genuinely to little ones around us, can spark development in the right directions. We adults are responsible to be agents of encouragement, like Johnny Appleseeds planting the earth.
In a time of great disparities, hunger, violence, and disarray among our leaders and governments of the world, this task is our most important one. Our children must have clear vision and bedrock values that will see them through these turbulent times to create a compassionate society that is not only possible, but in the making right now.
POST SCRIPT: OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST