“One potential remedy for human stupidity is a dose of humility. National, religious and cultural tensions are made worse by the grandiose feeling that my nation, my religion and my culture are the most important in the world – hence my interests should come before the interests of anyone else, or of humankind as a whole. How can we make nations, religions and cultures a bit more realistic and modest about their true place in the world?” ― Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
How can we protect our children from “stupidity”? How can we, as parents, cultivate respectful, loving and tolerant citizens of the world?
The world is made of people living side by side who have different experiences of life, different beliefs and social practices – culture. The world today largely recognises our rights to these differences. Unless we are going to build thousands of walls around every little group, we need to appreciate and get on with each other.
I believe it is also the right of children to grow up in a house that is tolerant and without prejudice of people who “aren’t like us”. If you teach your child to be intolerant and if you pass on your prejudice and narrow-minded beliefs on to your child, you are setting him or her up for failure in the real world.
It is good to celebrate where you come from and to be proud of your school, your language, your history, your culture, your religion but it is not OK to teach your children that yours is the best or the only right one. That is based entirely on your opinion or belief. Passing this on as fact is limiting and dishonest. Children need to know that there is a bigger world out there. Outside of your beliefs, outside of White River, outside of Nelspruit, outside of South Africa.
“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others”. – John F Kennedy
Teach your children to allow others to be who they are, and give them the opportunity to learn about and from people who are different. This is where the magic happens – when children are given the opportunity to learn that even though we come from different backgrounds and beliefs we are actually similar in so many ways. We are connected as human beings through our experiences of sport, music, art, school, relationships, the beautiful place we live in with its natural beauty and so much more.
Teach your children to ask questions and not to just accept everything they hear as truth. Always, always, always question. Even if a teacher or a dominee or a grandparent tells you “this is how it is”.
“Asking the proper question is the central action of transformation- in fairy tales, in analysis, and in individuation. The key question causes germination of consciousness. The properly shaped question always emanates from an essential curiosity about what stands behind. Questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open.” – Clarissa Pinkola Estez.
By teaching our children to question we cultivate broader, out of the box thinking that will create open-minded and clever individuals which is what we need for the future of our country and the world.
People are afraid of the unknown, of “Losing their Religion” as REM would say. But there is a middle way, you don’t have to “lose your religion” you just have to set your fears aside, step out of your boxed in thinking and be open to learn from someone who is different from you.
Most of us would say that we do not teach our children to be prejudiced. We should all be aware, however, that we grew up in a very intolerant society and we may inadvertently speak or act in ways that send messages to our children. Children are like sponges and take on and repeat what they see, especially if it is from parents or teachers.
“It takes a lot of courage to fight biases and oppressive regimes, but it takes even greater courage to admit ignorance and venture into the unknown. Secular education teaches us that if we don’t know something, we shouldn’t be afraid of acknowledging our ignorance and looking for new evidence. Even if we think we know something, we shouldn’t be afraid of doubting our opinions and checking ourselves again. Many people are afraid of the unknown, and want clear-cut answers for every question. Fear of the unknown can paralyse us more than any tyrant. People throughout history worried that unless we put all our faith in some set of absolute answers, human society will crumble. In fact, modern history has demonstrated that a society of courageous people willing to admit ignorance and raise difficult questions is usually not just more prosperous but also more peaceful than societies in which everyone must unquestioningly accept a single answer. People afraid of losing their truth tend to be more violent than people who are used to looking at the world from several different viewpoints.
Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.” ― Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
The next generation is learning new things and will have many opportunities at their fingertips, ones we can’t even imagine now. It is our responsibility as parents to prepare them for such a world. We can do this even at an early age by encouraging them to approach the world with open hearts and minds. #Makethecirclebigger #theyareus #teachyourchildtolove