Teaching our children

Teaching our children

I was reading facebook posts by folks this morning.  On my day off I give myself permission to spend a couple or three hours just letting the thoughts of friends and acquaintances occupy my own thoughts.  I happened across a post of one of my former youth charges in Knoxville who also happens to be the daughter of Fabaus Landry, the former senior minister at Knoxville, First Christian Church.  After his death last year, Shana managed to “rescue” some of her father’s writings and notes and quotes that he scribbled on all sorts of pieces of paper. 

I had to laugh a bit, after all it was Bob (Fabaus) who told me to never throw away anything I wrote and to keep things I read that might come in handy someday.  He also told me to never have more than three file cabinets (he had nearly two dozen of his own!)  What he forgot to tell me was that I shouldn’t put stuff in boxes when the cabinets got full.  But that’s a distraction for another time….

At any rate, Shana ran across an interesting piece which she posted today.  I believe it is a quote from the lyrics of a song in “South Pacific.”  It seems to speak volumes to situations in the present day. 

"You've got to be taught to hate-
You've got to be taught-
You've got to be very carefully taught-
Before you're six or seven or eight"

It occurred to me, that it had a familiar ring, like something from say the fourth century before Jesus.  “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” ― Aristotle.  The idea is that, if you give a child over to some institutions for training and indoctrination from birth until age seven, he/she belongs to that institution forever.  It has been alluded to by others including St. Ignatius of Loyola, Balthasar Gracian, and perhaps Adolf Hitler.  The Catholic Church used to say that about age eight.  Hitler tried to indoctrinate young children in the Hitler Jugend in order to create loyal cadres.  The Egyptians trained young Christian boys to be Janissaries.  Likewise, Communist regimes take young people into groups such as Komsomol.  

Any early child development specialist would agree. The most lasting aspects of a child's relationship to the world -- is the world a safe place? is it a good place? am I lovable? am I valued? -- are all decided unconsciously based on the child's interactions experiences.  I worry some days what, and by whom, today’s children are being taught about hate, bigotry and violence as a way to address problems.  Hopefully, places like JCC are making a difference by teaching love, compassion and forgiveness.