We live in difficult times – what about our children?
WORLD – We live in affluent yet difficult times.
Difficult not because of the recession cloud over our heads. Difficult not because of primitive transportation. Difficult not because of the lack of food or water.
We live in difficult times because as we progress and evolve, we regress.
We regress and segregate.
We profile people, things, countries, districts, groups, religions, beliefs and everything else into specific compartments and damn them into these groups for eternity. We fail to appreciate differences and embrace them. In fact, we do the contrary – we highlight them and define ourselves as the “not-thems”.
We point to others and say what we’re not (even if it means nothing to us):
- I’m not African-American.
- I’m not Canadian.
- I’m not a mediocre student.
- I’m not a nerd.
- I’m not a fan of the Brazil football team.
- I’m not a single mom.
- I’m not gay.
- I’m not a from a community college.
We live in a more connected world exposing us to greater diversity. But how has this help us?
We regress and become judgmental.
We are now armchair critics. Not the in-a-small-armchair-at-home-watching-tv kind of way, but the game-of-thrones-armchair-with-the-world-watching-me kind of judge. We think online commenters are attention-seeking, jobless fools or trolls. We think gamers are losers. We think sports athletes are brainless jocks.
We think Obama is a terrible leader. We think Michael Gove is a horrible education secretary. We think Cesar Millan abuses dogs instead of training them. We think we are smarter than the MySpace founder. We think Mark Zuckerberg is helping NSA spy on us and Facebook should go. We think those who share the “1 like = 1 prayer” messages on social media are idiots.
We think some deserve poverty, or bad things happen to them. We read about inspiring people and decide they probably have rich parents to fall back on.
We regress and become selfish
Now that the world is our audience, we have the ability to do much more for the world. But as we regress, we become selfish. We post mean, embarrassing things about others online. We join online contests and pester everyone to vote for our photos so that we can win a week’s supply of diapers. We read news about the suffering around the world and click X or scroll down.
We park our cars like we own the whole parking lot. We verbally abuse frontdesk staff who couldn’t get us what we want. We demand late check-outs because we feel entitled to them. We ignore the smiles on the waitress’ face as she serve us food, but complain to the manager about the waiter who didn’t see our empty glasses and refilled them because he was too busy.
We don’t clean up after ourselves because that’s the cleaners’ job – if we do it, what are they going to do?
The problem with the world today
The problem with the world today is that we feel entitled. To everything. (When I say “we”, it’s not a sweeping statement to justify each of us as terrible human beings, just a style of writing). I admit that some of these are thoughts I have had, or actions we have done. And we think nothing of this, because everyone does it.
Because everyone has done it, we think that makes it okay. And some of these harmless thoughts are really okay (if we keep them to ourselves).
We have better living conditions now than 10 years ago. We have better education opportunities and access to information and knowledge never thought possible in the 1980s. We now can make more of ourselves than our parents could with their relatively limited opportunities.
But life isn’t fair to all. There are many in suffering circumstances they cannot change within their lifetime. There are many still with no basic necessities, let alone internet connection. Many are so down on their luck they’re homeless or begging for work and shelter. Many are old grandparents sweeping the streets or collecting what we consider trash to make money for a meal. Many are sick but cannot afford healthcare.
Silver lining – our children
Our biggest hope to create a more peaceful, contented and non-violent world within societies is education. Education is the key to many things – enlightenment, awareness, understanding, informed decisions, empowerment; the list goes on.
What we teach our children today goes a long way in shaping their minds and the world of tomorrow. Teach a child to share, and he will learn generosity. Teach a child about pain, and he will learn to care. Teach a child about loss, and he will learn to value. Teach a child to own up, and he will learn honesty. Teach a child to reason, and he will learn to understand. Teach a child to walk away, and he will learn peace. Teach a child to give, and he will learn to give back. Teach a child with love, and he will learn to love.
That is all we can hope for – that we continue to teach the future of tomorrow even in difficult times like today. Doctors, engineers, musicians, artists, comedians, carpenters, writers, journalists, lawyers, boxers, or even prisoners, criminals and terrorists – everyone had at least one teacher. They have all learned in their lives and will continue to learn. It is the lesson they were taught, and the lessons they will teach that will decide our future.
Hopefully, a world with less conflicts and more tolerant societies that appreciate instead of segregate.