"Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to "love your enemies." Some men have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you? Others, like philosopher Nietzsche, contend that Jesus' exhortation to love one's enemies is testimony to the fact that the Christian ethic is designed for the weak and cowardly, and not for the strong and courageous. Jesus, they say, was an impractical idealist.
In spite of these insistent questions and persistent objections, this command of Jesus challenges us with new urgency. Upheaval after upheaval has reminded us that modern man is traveling along a road called hate, in a journey that will bring us to destruction and damnation. Far from being the pious injunction of a Utopian dreamer, the command to love one's enemy is an absolute necessity for our survival. Love even for enemies is the key to the solution of the problem of our world. Jesus is not an impractical idealist; he is the practical realist."
from Strength to Love by Martin Luther King, Jr. - published in 1963
Another cold snap is upon us - it is minus 6 degrees F. today but the sunshine and blue sky are so beautiful.
With the extreme cold, though, comes a bit of exhaustion because with a wood stove to heat our mostly not insulated home, we gather around our heat source for much of the day and dress in many layers, yet our bodies still work hard to stay warm.
I think, though, there is something so inherently human and raw in experiencing these challenges. I know we are on constant alert - alert to the rising or falling temperature within the house, frequently checking the wood stove, going outside every 2 - 3 hours to break and fill the animals' waters, brining in more firewood, preparing warm, hearty, nourishing food.
Yet there is also a feeling of coziness - of cuddling up under blankets, reading aloud, and drinking tea.
I don't like offending people and I am sorry if I did. I always hesitate to write about more serious topics here as I don't like getting people upset but I really do enjoy intellectual discussion and that usually involves considering different points of view which too often leads to people taking offense. I know there are really amazing teachers out there (my mom was one of them) that are doing their best to work within the system.
Within the confines of some basic truths to live by - love being the cornerstone as taught in the Bible and also in almost all religions - it is our duty as humans to honor each child in their full uniqueness so that they are able to flourish and share their gifts with others as they grow and thrive which of course, only happens in the most optimum settings. (I acknowledge fully that I fail daily as a parent in this but ask for forgiveness and strive to improve - like trying to figure out how Minecraft fits within our children's lives, for example, without being judgmental and uncaring.)
Children are better able to develop and flourish within this loving environment when there is not a strict base line of comparison. Yes there are developmental milestones that we strive for - both physically and emotionally - for our children and ourselves, but these shouldn't have specific boundaries. One child may speak fluently at age 5 another at age 2.
So when I speak of the "system" I do often speak with some negativity because within most of our systems are forms of measurement and comparison with very little support for developing the unique qualities and gifts within each individual.
Just two weeks ago, within two days I heard two stories from parents relating how the school system dealt with their children's behavioral issues. One boy, a highschool freshman, was disciplined by not being allowed to participate in any sports at all. His one love is sports and he is very good at them. Another boy, age 10, was acting out in the classroom and the teacher did not let this boy attend art that day as this was his favorite class. I understand the need for order, but it would seem that instead of being compassionate and working out why the behaviors are happening in the first place, the teachers are breeding anger. Of course, the traditional school setting is probably not the right place for either of those boys as it is not taking the time to figure out what makes them thrive.
The system is one of competition and encourages children and adults to put themselves first. This may often lead to greed, envy, and ambition instead of a society of compassionate people that honor each other's unique choices and strengths. I remember in third grade our teacher promised to take the first student that could get 100 multiplication problems correct in the minute speed drill, she would take them out for an icecream sundae. I remember working so hard at that and I was the first and I did go out for an icecream. Nowhere do I remember thinking about how that made the other students feel.
So let's strive to be compassionate - to always treat others as we wish to be treated. If the "system" doesn't honor this basic principle then let's fix it but in the meantime as parents and citizens we need to do something about the anger, frustration and hopelessness the system produces in those that don't fit in and the lack of compassion that it breeds in those that do fit in.
(Please note that I am writing in generalizations and I am sure there are wonderful examples out there that we can learn from. Also, I am working on my writing abilities and have a long way to go so I apologize if it isn't all that cohesive.)