Paradise and Parenting: Calling on the Village

If you’ve been brave enough to check the news, these past two weeks have been brutal to us citizens of earth. I feel like we’ve all been subjected to some pretty dismal levels of human decency.

I finally stopped the not-so-merry-go-round that is my twitter feed and got off, staggering to my bed where I could pull the covers over my head. I never knew how tiring it could be to view the spectacle of people at their worst.

This would be bad even for those who don’t have kids, because seeing those things make you feel upset and very often helpless. When you have kids, weeks like these make you realize that you are responsible for raising up humans that won’t go around hurting others and dragging your pretty-good name through the muck (and you also realize that if anyone hurts them, you are going to need the strength to not be the one doing the hurting and the dragging).

I have two children who are twelve and thirteen years old. They are great kids, certainly. Their father and I have worked hard to instill values and knowledge so they can be kind and also so they can defend themselves adequately.

However, at this marvelous age of adolescence, they are certain that we don’t know how life works in this day and age. They are right, if by life they mean Apple products. But there are several aspects of life that they still have to learn about, and I’m a bit stuck on the timing of the lessons. I’m overwhelmed by the sheer volume as well.

For example, they have to know that the truth matters, and that sometimes sticking to it takes a lot of courage.

They have to know that their words have power to help or to hurt, even if they can’t see the faces they are speaking to over a computer screen, and it’s just an argument over Fortnight or Roblox.

They have to know that they should speak up when they see something wrong, and that they should stand up for someone when they are kicked down.

They have to know that they have the right to set boundaries and to be respected and heard. They have to know that it’s ok to ask for help when those boundaries are crossed.

They have to know that they are privileged in a few different ways, no matter that their parents won’t buy them the Iphone XR, or whatever it is, and with that privilege comes a responsibility that is going to feel pretty heavy sometimes.

But my kids also have access to a lot of information about what is happening in the world. They can see Netflix and hear music (Green Day fans) and talk to their friends. They watch advertisements and news clips and very opinionated YouTubers. They can see world leaders in action and read all the comments of those leaders’ supporters and detractors, all with just the click of a mouse.

Sure, we talk to them about what they see and hear. We can ask the questions and we can give our own honest answers. Most of all, we can try to model the way a kind, compassionate, courageous human being should live in their own small corner of the world. Sometimes we’ll be pretty poor examples. Sometimes, on a good day, we’ll succeed.

But you know, dear internet, dear leaders, dear world, it would be nice to get some support. We are raising this next generation, after all. Show them what it means to be accountable. Show them what it means to have respect. Show them what it means to stand beside the victim and help them up. Show them what it means to have courage and dignity in the most difficult and trying of circumstances.

Show them what it means to be a true person of worth. I’m talking about a worth based on values, in a world where so much seems to depend on material and political gain.

Help us world. Give us something to work with here. We’re doing all we can, but we’re calling on the village to gather around all the children now, to raise them up with us. The future depends on us all.