It’s funny the places I happen to be when all of a sudden, an idea for writing comes to mind. Today, it was the dressing room of T.J. Maxx. Yep. I bought nothing, but came out with an idea!
You see, I’ve been feeling unsure of what to write about for the past few weeks… should it be about Yoga, Parenting, or about how to keep your Holidays simple with children…? Well, I’m thankful for the T.J. Maxx dressing room today because a very important question came to my mind… WHERE ARE ALL THE HELPERS IN THE WORLD?
There is an astonishing amount of CRAP going on in the world. Today. Right this very moment. Violence, war, drug abuse, children being used and abused as soldiers… not to mention all of the poverty. And yet here I am writing on a computer from the comfort and safety of my home. What a blessing, truly, it blows my mind.
However, what I want to focus on (amidst the chaos of this world) is the fact that there are GOOD… no… GREAT things happening, too.
Over the past few weeks the media has been sharing stories of extreme injustice and racism in the US… from the death of Michael Brown to the death of Eric Garner (and everything else in between). These displays of inequality make it easy to feel hopeless. After watching some videos for myself, I felt sick to my stomach. Regardless of your opinion about these events that have happened, the question still remains: what kind of world are we creating for the next generation of children… and their children… and so on? What are we teaching our youth today about power, honesty, helping others, and about race?
It may be easy to feel somewhat removed from all of the dangers of the world, especially if you live in a safe environment, with food, shelter and other luxuries. But that is just rubbish. We are never removed. That is a false fantasy. We are all interconnected. What happens to one person creates a trickle effect for what will happen to another. That is my belief at least.
Being a parent during times of joy can feel great… all those warm & fuzzy feelings, and wishing for time to stop right in the moment because you feel so full of life. But then there are the times when tragedy happens, and those are the times that being a parent scares the shit out of me. The times when school shootings and bombs being dropped over innocent human beings have happened, left me wondering what I can do to make a difference to stop the violence. Knowing that I have a child now who must endure all of the suffering that consumes this world is an uneasy feeling. However, it doesn’t always need to stay that way. What would life be if it was just led by fear?
We (adults, mentors, teachers, parents) have a responsibility to make this world a better place- not just for our own benefit, but for those youngsters who are still painting the bathroom walls with toothpaste, and making mud pies outside. There are many ways to teach children about KINDNESS, HELPING, and CARING FOR OTHERS. One way that I have found to be particularly helpful is by pointing out all of the “helpers” in the world. So for instance, say my son and I are walking down the street and a loud fire truck goes blaring past us, I help to explain how the firefighters are heading to help someone. Or if we see a homeless person on the street, I try to offer to buy them a hot drink or some food. This shows my son that he can be a helper, too, in a variety of ways. Each day, there are so many teachable moments, and I for one believe strongly in learning through experience.
Another resource for focusing on the GOODNESS that is in the world is by reading books that illustrate kindness and compassion. One of my son’s favorite books is called Good People Everywhere written by Lynea Gillen, MS, and illustrated by Kristina Swarner. This book takes the reader through different situations of life, showing how one person helps another. It’s beautifully illustrated, and is a simple story for children as young as 2 years old to comprehend, yet still leaving room for so much dialogue with older children.
Here is a list of a few other favorite books (click on the title of the book for a direct link):
Little Helpers: published by innovativeKids
26 Big Things Small Hands Do: written by Colleen Paratore
The Teddy Bear: written by David McPhail
Because Brian Hugged His Mother: written by David L. Rice
The Colors of Us: written by Karen Katz
Buddha at Bedtime: written by Dharmachari Nagaraja
Peaceful Piggy Meditation: written by Kerry Lee MacLean
What Does Peace Feel Like? : written by Vladimir Radunsky and children just like you from around the world.
I guess my intention for writing about being a “helper” and listing all of these books is to spread the word about being a shining light in the world. The world desperately needs more helpers, and what better place to begin that process than with children! We must create a generation of compassionate activists- people who want to make a change to benefit others, and who stand up for that change. By doing so, there is no fear left. There is only confidence. Knowing that the world is in the hands of remarkable young human beings will feel empowering.
Please share any books that you love and that promote the messages of peace, kindness, compassion, understanding, and love. And share any thoughts you have… I’d love to learn from all the readers out there! Visit www.childpeacebooks.org for an incredible list of books for children.