Want a meaningful life? Spend time with Children

This post has little to do with living with metastatic lung cancer, and more to do with my thoughts about our world today, thoughts gathered from living a meaningful life filled with children.  It is filled with opinion, mine! I’ve never had a time in my life when it wasn’t filled with children.  Time with children will only enhance one’s life.

Now should be the best time in the history of  our country to be a child.  I think it’s not, far from it.  It’s the scariest time to be a child that I’ve seen in my lifetime.  We can change that.  We must change it.  We must change.  Spending time with children is “free” and will only enhance your life too.  Our children need us, all of us.

There’s unbelievable  stuff happening in our world. It makes my difficulties seem so small.  Has it always been so extreme and we didn’t have the technology to be made aware of it? History tells me yes, and no.  For a child, reading The Diary of Anne Frank or even Night by Elie Wiesel, with a trusted adult to help you process it, is quite different than that child seeing the news, possibly on her/his smart phone, as the reporter video “chats” with two young girls  in Syria, living in the midst of pure horror.  Parents, please pay attention to what your children are seeing and are watching on their own.  When  you choose to watch current events together, please point out the people who are trying to help (when you find them).

We’re on fast forward and I want someone to hit pause.  Then maybe reason could enter the picture before we move on. Yes, I’m talking about the situation we find ourselves in regarding gun violence.  Pause long enough to think reasonably.  Adults in “power”, QUIT the BLAME game! You are supposed to be our leaders.  Do so with courage.  We are in a crisis that requires action, not just reaction.  Move forward.  We need a sensible plan right here right now. Here’s a middle school tool to help called STOP: Stop, Think, Organize, Proceed.  Move forward positively please.  I don’t have answers.  I have thoughts.  We all do. Please protect our children through reasonable means.

We can all pay attention to our children.  Yes, they are OUR children.  Not just the ones you’re related to, but the ones next door, across the street, and as far beyond as you can reach.  If everyone is vigilant about paying attention to what’s happening with the children in your world, then maybe we can better support them.  We can all be children’s advocates.  We have to get involved, be there for OUR children.  Please reach out to the children in your world.  

Gun violence.  We don’t just have a gun violence problem, it’s a violence problem.  Violence has become commonplace.  New gaming systems come with very realistic gory, violent games.  People killing people.  What happened to challenging games with fun characters?  Children are  blasted with images and language of violence and hate.  It’s hard to get away from.   We can do better.  It will take all of us, well, most of us working together to support our children in steering away from this realm of our world.

I am a hunter.  It’s been a part of my life always.  I have wonderful memories of trotting along after my dad while rabbit hunting.  Wild game was a mainstay on the table for most families in  rural Maine 50 years ago.  It still is for some. We eat what we hunt.  It’s my rule.  I’ve spent hours sitting in a tree while deer hunting with a child by my side. I want my grandchildren to experience and understand what is involved in the full experience.  Climbing a tree pre-dawn, seeing and hearing the forest awaken, determining the subtle sound differences of approaching animals, and learning some of the language of the forest are all part of this experience.  So is making sure you have a good shot or not shooting, tracking the animal if necessary, and if you take a life, thanking the animal for that life.  Always be a grateful hunter. I am always sad when I take a life, but I am a meat eater and wild game is healthy and delicious.  All this, even with life taken, is so far removed from the “gun debate” that is happening now.  Many years ago I read a book entitled Know Hunting by Dr. David E. Samuel.  It really helped me think about hunters and anti-hunters.  I recommend it. But this now, this debate, in my mind at least, has nothing to do with hunting.  

Our children are dying.  People want action.  Suggestions are being made.  They need to be considered.   We need more than a bandaid.  I don’t know anyone who needs to or should own an assault rifle. (They are different than semi-automatic rifles.) Their purpose is to kill people. It’s a step.  No, I don’t think it’s a step toward taking “our” guns away.  Increasing the age to purchase a gun?  Can’t hurt, don’t see how it actually changes much. Tightening the background check system can only help I would think, and we should plan ahead for such a purchase. The lack of trust and confidence in our leadership makes it difficult to support these changes, but I think we must.

Arm teachers in every school?  PLEASE DON’T!!  If the government (that currently will not supply schools with what is needed to fulfill their mission) wants to place armed school resource officers in every school, I’m for it.  As sad as it makes me to say it, as teachers we cannot say we are providing a safe place for children to learn.  And, even with the locked doors and safety precautions, we can’t protect them. If there are personnel not directly responsible for groups of children, and the school system deems it in the best interest of children to provide rigorous training to them, then I’m not opposed to qualified staff volunteering for this.  But please don’t expect this of anyone.  No one should ever think that being armed is an expectation of their school position, except a law officer.   If knowing that someone is armed will deter attackers, I’m willing to accept it. 

Really, I just want everyone to think about how to better support the children around them and beyond.  Even if you think you’re doing a great job of this already.  Not just the ones related to you.  Reach out, please.  I know we can change the direction we’re headed in.  Spending time with children will only enhance your life.  Maybe just noticing all children, paying attention to their wellbeing will bring more joy to your life too.  We can all be children’s advocates. We can do this.

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