Do you remember how you used to think as a child?
Most of us don’t.
Inoculated by the education and entertainment industries, we learned — while still far too young – to prize being cool over being honest. More important than what we actually thought and hoped and dreamed for was to look and act like a pretend person from a TV show, or better yet, an outrageously rebel rock star (honestly, who WOULDN’T want to be a rock star, idolized and worshiped by a mob of screaming fans?). At school, we venerated some figure from history, transformed into a fabulous role model by those weekly, condescendingly inane take-home inserts.
But there was a time before we were misled, when we played outside in a world that we created ourselves, in our own precious heads, as opposed to the world created for us by movies and TV. These were days when we were like the little girl in the painting, Effervescence, marching through the meadow with the purpose of play. It was a joyous time, a simple time, a time in which it was good enough to be just ourselves — and indeed, it didn’t cross our minds that we should be anybody else.
Those days, however, don’t last long, because our society spends a lot of time and effort teaching children that indeed, they are not good enough: their clothes are all wrong, their family drives the wrong kind of car, they themselves are not attractive enough, they’re not smart enough, they’re just not . . . something enough. It’s not just the businesses trying to sell us solutions to our many shortcomings who push at us; if we stumble our way into a church looking for the God we long for — the one who treasures and loves us, wrong clothes and car in all, because He made us — we hear the same message: we’re not good enough; we think wrong, act wrong, do wrong, and the only hope for us is that we come back week after week to buy the next message from the pulpit.
So . . . let’s stop for a moment and try to remember the way we thought as a child. And if that’s too far back, too buried in detritus to be found, then let us learn from children who are children today. Watch a very young child play. Listen to the things they say. Get down on their level and try to see the world the way they do.
Children possess a wisdom that we adults have lost — but they’re very very willing to teach us. All we have to do is listen.