Sunday, November 29, 2009

Can a blog entry change the world?

I wonder.

I bet it could. If everyone who felt the same way shared it.

Ok, here's the backstory:

Sitting in the bath tub this weekend, I was flipping through a Canadian Living magazine, and came across an article with the tagline:

Nurture your children's passion and compassion, and they will change our world forever.

My eyes glanced it over, then stopped, and went back to read it again. Hmmm...

Compassion. Change the world. Forever. I like this. I want this.

This article was an excerpt from a book called The World Needs Your Kids by Marc and Craig Kielburger and Shelley Page - siblings, who have very compassionate parents. It's about how their parents realized at one point that, when they stopped at the dollar store to buy gifts for new immigrant families in their neighbourhood, their children would shrink down into their seats in embarrassment. They realized they were raising snobs. After that, they strove to raise their children to understand the world, in all its bumps and imperfections, and to know their ability to make it better. To quote their article:

Your children are watching. If you are compassionate, they will also try to be. If you counsel compassion but are not that way yourself, there is a good chance you'll end up raising a cynic. For better - and sometimes for worse - you are the guiding force.

I worry sometimes. About the world. About how easy it is for people to stand by. Including me. I don't have children, but sometimes, it scares me to think about bringing children into this world. Into a world where 15-year old girls get gangraped while others stand by watching. Into a world where you can be bullied for not having the right phone, the right clothes, or for just trying to stay out of people's way. It's easy for me, not being a parent, to say this, but how come nobody is stopping them? Why do they think it's ok?

I think we could change the world. Don't you? If you could sit down with your children, your friends, your family, open a newspaper and have frank discussions about what is happening around the world, and what you could do to make it better, wouldn't that motivate change?

If you could hold the door open for the next person behind you...

If you could welcome a new neighbour into your neighbourhood...

If you could vocalize your disagreement with unsocial behaviour...

If you could ask your children who they are spending time with, and why they choose to...

If you could give up your next appointment, tv show, or golf game to spend time with your children or people who are lonely...

You could. And so could I.

Buddhism teaches compassion. I am not Buddhist, but I like that. Compassion so complete that you are empty- empty of all that is superfluous. Where all your anger or frustration is transformed into compassion, into an understanding that the person opposite you is engaged in some sort of battle that you have somehow stumbled into. We all are. And we are all entitled to kindness.

It frustrates me greatly to meet people who don't think of larger global issues as their own. I can understand why: it's not here. It's not in front of us every day. But it still matters. It matters more than the phone you one or the clothes you wear. It's just not immediate. And yet, it is.

And it's not just large global issues. It's the issues outside our doors. Bullying. Antisocial behaviour. Being happy to sit by, texting away while people vandalize your neighbourhood. It's not our problem.

But it is.

It's difficult to address anger, pain and struggling, but if we don't, how do we know what comfort is?

The last paragraph of this article (the introduction to their book), it says:

Our hope is that the parents of today can raise a generation of children who can stop dreaming about a better world and begin to live in one.

Ok, so what do I want? I want people to stand up for compassion. I want to remind myself that it's not all about getting ahead in life. It's ok to give an hour or two to someone who needs to talk or a few dollars for gifts for the less fortunate. And that it's important to disagree with behaviour that is hurtful. And, if I have children, I want them to know what compassion is, and why it is important.

John Mayer says,

It's hard to beat the system
When we're standing at a distance
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change.

Please, share this blog entry. Discuss it. Argue over it, I don't mind. But we need to talk about this. It's not enough to shake our heads and sayc'est la vie.It doesn't have to be.

Nurture your children's passion and compassion, and they will change our world forever.

Begin discussion now.

As a postscript, I want to share that I was very fired up about writing this yesterday, and when I woke up this morning, it didn't seem so important. I knew that would happen. I forced myself to sit down and write this tonight. And I'm really glad I did, because I know now how easy it was for me to let it go. I'm glad I'm not.

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