Reflections: What Are We Feeding Our Children?
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. Confucius
What are we feeding our children? Are we feeding them a diet of good or evil? Twenty years ago today, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, committed a heinous crime that left 168 people dead and 680 injured in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City bombing claimed the lives of 19 children; 15 of them were kids at the America’s Kids Day Care Center. The kids were dropped off by their parents on that fateful morning, and the next bit of news they got was heartbreaking. I don’t know how those two men were raised but, something in their life experiences contributed to their disregard for human life. When we start early in life teaching our kids to hate or exposing them to situations that highlight disregard for others, we are slowly but surely creating kids without a conscience. What are we feeding our children? Are we feeding them a healthy world view where equity and compassion rules? Or are we feeding them a negative world view where anyone who doesn’t look like them is considered the enemy?
Some folks are so casual with spewing hateful words around their kids; they think they are too young to understand or that they are not paying attention, but that is not always the case. Kids watch and emulate and, one day, they might even harm us and others. We might come from different backgrounds, religions and races but, we are all human first. If we don’t put that thought in front of our minds in every interaction, we are not working to build global unity, just adding to the potential for conflict. Let’s feed our kids healthy thoughts and actions. There is a price to pay if we don’t.
“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” James A. Baldwin
It is my goal to love everyone. I hate no one. Regardless of their race, religion, their proclivities, the desire of their heart and how they want to live their life and the decisions that they make. I can even respect people’s decisions and lifestyle choices just as I hope they have the courtesy to respect my decisions and my choices. Kirk Cameron
When we commit prejudicial or discriminatory acts around our kids, even if they are very young, we are planting seeds of hate in their hearts. Just because someone is different from us doesn’t justify abuse or petty acts of hatred. If we continue to spout hate and do mean things to people different from us, eventually, it seeps into our psyche and emboldens us to believe we are doing the right thing. Wrong action is never justifiable. We can pretend all we want, sooner or later, it will surface and cause us great pain. The baby above, lost her life in that terrible bombing. What was she guilty of? NOTHING. Hate spreads like debris tossed in a river, it travels and taints/pollutes everything in its path. The poison spreads and hurts more people than its original intent. A careless word of hate, like a careless act of pollution, reverberates and causes more harm than good. It can lead to wars, acts of terrorism, genocide, and the dissolution of relationships. What can you do today to bury old wounds and petty hatreds?
Some of us have had experiences with cyber-bullies and/or mean girls online. I’ve never understood why they are called “mean girls” because the ones I’ve encountered are not girls but women. But I get it: When we act in a thoughtless and mean-spirited way, we are not acting like adults who ought to have self-control over our actions and emotions, we are acting like bratty kids. If you had a miserable childhood or unhappy circumstances in your life, don’t you think that healing yourself should mean not exhibiting the same behavior towards others? When people are rigid, racist, and hurtful towards others, their actions are a cry for inner healing. Think about it. If you go around hurting others, what are you crying for? Where are you hurting? Please seek professional help and heal your inner wounded child… your life depends on it.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” Elie Wiesel
This world of ours… must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Above is a memorial for one of the headmistresses of the International school I attended in England. She was a visionary who believed that all of us could learn something valuable from each other. Children from around the world attended my school and we were educated in each others “cultures, creeds and religions, and out of that understanding came lifelong respect.” One of the highlights of my school was our United Nations Day when we got to share more about our traditions, and celebrate our differences. Did we have arguments at school? Sure, but they were focused on individual behavior not generalized to culture, religion, or the color of a person’s skin.
Today, I’m connected to many of my former classmates/friends on Facebook, and we are truly a global group of women. My parents sent me to that school because they had the same philosophy about life. My kids are global minded and I’m grateful that my upbringing and many of my experiences reinforced my belief that we are all inherently good. But, it takes effort. There is evil in the world and we can rise above it or become part of it. If we remain insular and refuse to teach our kids to respect people and cultures from other parts of the global community, we are performing a disservice. The internet has created a global village that gets smaller every day. We can sit at home and connect with people around the world and get to appreciate what each of us adds to the whole. Yes, it takes work. How are you preparing your kids for the global community?
“Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate it; a child who fears noises becomes a man who hates noise.” Cyril Connolly
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It’s easy to go through life assuming all our beliefs are self-taught but, they aren’t. We are influenced by our family, our experiences and by many others. We are exposed to the thoughts and actions of people we look up to and admire, and their influence has an impact on our lives. Our thoughts have tremendous power, and we can use that power to help, hurt or heal ourselves and others. If we are exposed to environments that are empowering and that encourage positive ways of viewing the world, we will adopt those teachings and make them part of our life’s work. We often hear people who recanted their terrible ways say that they wish someone had guided them earlier in life and taught them that hate is not an answer. What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five, or ten…) ago? When we raise kids and encourage them to develop reason and logic, we are preparing them for a healthy world. Feeding them a diet of dogma and discrimination is the road to discontent.
When we are at peace with ourselves and happy with whatever conditions we are tackling, we are less inclined to want to be hurtful to others. Try saying mean things when you are full of joy and laughter. It’s impossible to do. Before we log on to the internet, it would be good practice to think about who we will help today instead of who we will hurt. By the same token, let’s educate our kids to use common sense online/offline, and to find healthy outlets for their frustrations.
This post was inspired by two prompts from WP Daily Post: Powerful Suggestion :What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five, or ten…) ago? and Review Your Life. : Write a review of your life — or the life of someone close to you — as if it were a movie or a book.
For More: Women’s Lives & Issues
Positive Motivation Tip: If we feed our children love, they will remain it. If we feed them hate, they will remember it.