I've been thinking a lot lately about the lessons we teach our children. Not that I currently have any children (or will have any in the near future), but still it has been something that has been on my mind. I deal with a lot of people who are selfish, self entitled, pompous, asshats. I have to wonder if there is a societal problem with how we are raising our children that they turn out like this.
Of course there are a lot of perfectly lovely and functional people out there. I am not saying that everyone I run into are inconsiderate jerks, but there is an alarmingly large number of them roaming around.
It just seems to me that there is a great lack of educating our children (and not in the school sort of way, though that is lacking too but is a completely different post). It seems like parents have gotten lazy in teaching their spawn the important things that make generally good people.
I look around me and it looks as though the only lessons people have been taught are that it is important to be pretty, and popular, and rich. Holy bananas its like high school never ended. What is wrong with you people? These are not the important things in life.
Walking around judging people because they are fat, or poor, or ethnic, or gay, or straight, or pagan, or skinny, or have bad teeth, or are not smart, or have bad fashion sense, or <fill in the blank here of the endless things to judge people on> is just wrong. I know being judgmental is an overall human flaw and we all do it, even me. There is a limit though to how closed minded and bigoted a person can be before they are just jackasses.
I read a rather appalling story about some loon in Florida who wants and Atheist registry so good Christians could go and boycott Atheist businesses and proselytize to the heathens. This might be judgmental of me towards this guy and people who think like that, but this is just wrong. So they don't believe the same thing as you do (or possibly anything at all), that is none of your business. It does not make them bad people anymore than it makes you good because you are Christian. I certainly don't think actively protesting and being cruel to people for being different makes you a good anything, especially not a good person.
These are problems that don't manifest in adulthood. These are things that are rooted in a persons upbringing. When you teach a child that it is alright to hate people because they are different that is a problem. When you teach a child that all that matters is being beautiful on the outside that is a problem. When you teach a child that the only thing that matters is money and social status that is a problem.
Yes money is important. Yes having social structure and being able to function in society is important. These things go without saying really, but they are not the most important things.
Teach your children to be beautiful. Teach them that beauty is on the inside and comes from the heart and comes from the soul. Teach them that what you see on the outside is no measure of all the wonderful things on the inside, and as long as you are beautiful within you will always be beautiful no matter how you look.
Teach your children to be strong. Teach them to have strength of mind and spirit and conviction. Teach them to stand up for what they believe in without trampling on others.
Teach your children to be kind and tolerant. Teach them that being different is what makes everyone special. Teach them that no matter who people love, worship, or befriend, they are still people with feelings and hopes and dreams, just like everyone else. Teach them that a how a person acts and speaks is more important than who their god is or who their lover is.
Teach your children that a good person does not have to be just like them. Teach them that good people come in every shape and size, every sex and religion and race, as do bad people.
Teach your children not to judge. Teach them that they can not look at a person and know them. Teach them that you never know a persons circumstances and why they are the way they are. Teach them to know the facts before making a decision.
Teach your children that they have to work hard for what they want. Teach your children that nothing is going to necessarily be handed to them because they want it. Teach them that they have to do what is needed to get to the goal. No one owes them anything except general respect and human decency, which is what they owe to others in return.
Teach your children that hate is a four letter word. Hating lima beans is one thing, but hating other people is an ugly thing. Teach them that not everyone has to like one another, and that it is alright to disagree and even not get along, but to truly hate is a dark thing that makes you ugly for giving in to it.
Teach your children that we are all people, simple and imperfect, and that we all deserve to be treated as we would want to be treated. Kindness, compassion, love, and understanding is what makes us able to live together in some sense of harmony.
If we could teach these things to our children, imagine what the world would be like.
Remember that children learn by watching us. So the next time you say something snarky and judgmental about someone else, the next time you talk about how much better you are than someone because you are skinnier or richer than they are, the next time you make blanket assumptions about a group of people, check and see if there are any children listening to you and think if you are setting the example for what kind of person you want them to be.
Teach yourself these lessons, and maybe then our children will have a chance.