Monday, March 29, 2010

Children Learn

Children learn from what they see, don't they. Today, they see perhaps the most divisive era yet in American history. They see anger and judgement, accusation and slander, and vicious separation. They see nothing of nobility or virtue. Nothing at all anywhere in the public arena.

When, by rhetoric and example and media exposure, we teach our children to fear and hate their fellow man, when we teach them that he is a lesser human because of his origin or beliefs, when we teach that those who differ from us are a threat to our freedom or our job or family, then we sow the seeds of a lifetime's conflict.  They will see not through the eyes of consideration but of conquest and with a goal of competition and mastery. 

At the end of it all, we look at our brothers and sisters as aliens, those with whom we share a world, but not a life, those bound to us in common place, but not in common purpose. We learn to share just our common fear - our common desire to retreat from each other - a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. In all of this, there is neither virtue nor justification.  It's the heart of fear.

We've got to see that our own children's good future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We have to grasp that this short life can neither be ennobled nor enriched by class or conquest.

Learn.  Change.  Share the lessons learned with your children. What a load will be lifted from both generations.

It's perhaps the most difficult of tasks to see our own bent thinking, our unreasoned bias, our preferential filtering of information.  Impossible.  Until it's done, of course.  Then, at least, we can see clearly.

Personal note: we both grew up in Texas; it was the whole world to us.  It was the width and breadth of our understanding, and it never occurred to us that there was more.  Working outside the country shattered our worldview, our personal philosophy and theology, and required us to thoughtfully rebuild it all, for which we're thankful.  We needed it.   
Ro.12.2 Don't conform.  Instead, by the rebuilding of your mind, be changed so that by inquiry you may recognize the will of God along with all that is good and just and magnificent in this life.

And thanks, of course, to Nelson Mandela whose life and words were more noble than most, and to RFK who challenged us to think about such things.