Thursday, August 2, 2018

Always be the helpers

I'm not generally one who reads advice columns, but this one, aimed at parents, nudged at me, making me want to share it.

Too often, it strikes me that the person writing in for advice is asking for something specific to him or her, a response to a problem that's unique to him and him alone. But this mother's plaint is common, and not just to parents. I struggle, too, with the question of how to effect optimism with friends and others without, as she puts it, "overloading" them.

Carvell Wallace puts it plainly: "To be a child in 2018 is to know that the adults have completely abdicated our collective responsibility to make a decent world for our kids." Game, set, and match. Abdicated is the polite way to put it; the truth is we have, as a species, gone out of our way to fuck this world up with a passion.

Her suggestion, taken from a now-famous Fred Rogers' quote, is spot-on: In order for our children to find the helpers, we must be he helpers. What good does it do them if we're all behaving like chickens with our heads lopped off or, worse, as if the issue doesn't matter? America claims it hates a bully, and goes out of its way to elect one. We say children are our future and are important to us, and defund and beggar the very schools and programs meant to help them grow into that future.  We insist school be a safe place for them, and offer nothing more than thoughts and prayers to keep guns out of them. 

Everyone knows kids aren't stupid and we all like to brag about how intelligent ours are, but then we behave as if they're not only dim but blind and deaf too. The note that little ones have big ears and eyes is so common it's trite, but it's not only their own parents they're listening and watching. It's what we mean by having compassion: When you're outside your home, act like there's a kid watching and mimicking you. I do this myself. I feel better for it. Because there often is one somewhere. And they will eventually treat me the same as they see me treating others 

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