What is humanity? A question to ponder as school violence, negative behaviours and mental health increase.
Are we so busy teaching our kids to be competitive, how to be "school" smart, how to be financially successful and get ahead often at any cost, that we are failing to teach them how to be human?
What sets us apart from other species is not just our thumbs, no, or our intellect as we know now many animals share a similar intellect, in their own ways and brain capacity, it is our ability to create, to give, to empathize, to cope, to forgive, to hope and to share with those who have less than we do; to care for our world and most importantly to use our words over violence to solve our problems. It is our ability not to just do one of these things but all of them.
We are uniquely human because of the depth of our emotional capacity. That is what sets us apart, though don’t get me wrong we see many of these similarities, certainly love, in all creatures but it our ability to use these tools to create the world we wish to see. To choose.
I’m also not saying that we should not be competitive in our goals or to desire success, not at all. Teaching to work hard to achieve what we wish to achieve offers important skill-sets. It creates confidence. What we need, however, is balance. Balance between humanity, success, power and competition. To win gracefully is as important or more so than losing gracefully. To share when we have achieved so much.
We have created this society, together. Only we can discover how to change the course of the future and raise children who feel loved, welcome and such a strong sense of belonging be it at school or home or community that there is no desire for violence to offset pain or loss or just feeling non-existent. Violence, acting out is a way of being heard
I ask my students every day to please, “use their words”. We all need to use our words to solve our problems. We need to teach and model this every day in our own encounters. We need to actively listen to those around us, to engage in conversation. We spend so much just talking at each other and not listening, not engaging and believing that to be conversation and communication.
The flip side of this and no less diminishing is raising a subset of children who are lacking resilience and confidence, coping skills. Children need to fail, they need to lose, they need to solve some problems on their own to become functioning, responsible adults. Entitlement creates as many damaging seeds as does neglect and violence.
We have created this world. We must help our children change it.