Tuesday, 10 December 2013

I believe the children are the future….

It seems poignant that I was thinking of Nelson Mandela only weeks before his death…..but let me start at the beginning…..

I have seen several TV programs recently that started to make me think about children and how we influence them.   The first program I saw was about the skinhead movement in America.  It shadowed a well-known speaker as he moved within the skinhead society, speaking at rallies and promoting the white nation notion.  This program disturbed me deeply as it showed instances where children were subjected to their parents ideas and prejudices pertaining to anyone that was not white….ie coloureds, Jews, Hispanics…and when they discovered that the interviewee was possibly a Jew, they were visibly upset and disgusted that they had been so “violated”.  I couldn’t believe that people still thought this way, that they were teaching their children to think this way.  That they could hold such hate for a people that they knew nothing about….and that they were passing this hatred to their children.

And it showed in their children….and that is what I found so sad….and so disturbing.  They had been raised to believe that coloured people and Jews, in particular, were races of people that needed to be wiped out completely and that they had nothing to offer to society….that they were dirty, stupid, incompetent and should be wiped out.  The hate that the children showed was so sad to me, and something so obviously taught to them by their parents.

The second program I saw was about the Amish society which is a way of life that has fascinated me.  The program showed an Amish family and the daily life that they followed.  The program was filmed in secret because if their church found out that they were speaking to a TV program and being filmed, they would be shunned by their society and they would be forced to become outsiders.  A big risk to take when their views and beliefs were on the line. 

This family lived without electricity, TV, telephones or computers as were the rules of their religion but in some ways they were trying to introduce some elements into their family life to make it a little easier.  Once again I was struck by how the parent’s lifestyle and beliefs were ingrained in their children from an early age and how much influence this was having on their children’s psyche.  These children were being bought up with good ideals, but their ideals were restrained within their restricted community.

A third program I saw was about the most hated family in the USA.  This family followed the religious ideals of the patriarch of the family and they shunned anyone that did not embrace their religion.  They were happy when people got ill, when natural disasters happened and when 911 happened.  They believe that if something bad happened to you, then you must have sinned and deserved to die.  That they live the ultimately perfect life and that they are the only people going to heaven.  Once again I was saddened by the children caught up in this religion.  Children forced to believe what they were told until it became the truth to them.

Children are like sponges.  They absorb everything around them.  They will suck in and believe what they are exposed to…...whether it is good or bad.  Parents need to understand that they do not own their children. They are only custodians of their health and wellbeing until they are old enough to make their own decisions. Children are their own people and circumstances that affect their growing up…linger long into their adulthood….and affect them in so many ways.  Is it not our duty to show the children of the world as much of the world that we can?  We need to expose them to as many of the different lifestyles, religions and ways of life that fill our world so that they can then make their own unbiased decisions once they reach adulthood…without prejudice.  I came across this quote from Nelson Mandela…and it summed up everything for me….

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

It is so simple as a concept, but so mind boggling as a world ideal of peace, tolerance and acceptance.  So easy, and yet so difficult.  Like Mandela, I dream of a world where people are accepted no matter how they look, how they live, how they talk or what they believe.  And I believe that the key to this dream….is in our children.  Teach them to accept…and the dream with become reality.  Nelson Mandela was an amazing person.  May his dreams and hopes for a better world become a reality.

I believe the children are the future,
Teach them well and let them lead the way…..


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