Why is it so hard to trust children?
In this moment, as I write about trusting children, I am struggling with the ideas swirling in my head. No, not the ideas. I am struggling with the feelings.
The challenges I see in our culture are weighing heavy on my heart as I write.
We too often see human beings as a commodity. We measure the value and worth of people based on their productivity.
School is a means to ensure global
competitiveness. We shape and mold individuals to meet the needs of the economic growth of a broader society that requires less individualism and more conformity, while at the same time we decry the lack of creative individuals coming out of our systems to address the complex challenges in our society.
Writing all of these things brings to my heart a sense of heaviness, a momentary lack of hope.
And what does all of this have to do with trusting children?
It has to do with the challenge of learning to trust children when the tide of our culture and society sets us up to believe that only through control can we achieve a society that is worthy and productive.
If children were allowed to develop on their own timeline, we would not be able to measure the success of our structures and systems.
If children were trusted to find their passions in life and pursue them, the ways in which we need workers whose productivity and worth are measured in confining and narrow ways would be undermined.
Give up freedom to serve a greater economic purpose.
Give up individuality so that we can measure our success as a culture based on productivity and a narrow definition of growth.
Give up passion so that you can serve the needs of institutions that thrive on hierarchy and the continuation of the status quo.
As I write this piece on trust and how it is we can learn to trust children and give them the freedom to grow and learn, I am struggling with what feels like the weight of a culture and society that requires that children to do exactly the opposite.
The ways in which we socialize children to find their proper place in our society has everything to do with breaking down the internal power of individuals in order to serve the greater power of the institutions.
And as I write those words I feel sad.
I feel sad for the ways we require individuals to give up parts of themselves to meet the needs of others and the institutions we’ve created.
But I know that just as we created those systems, we have the power to transform them. I know this deep in my soul, even if at times I forget it.
So I dig deep down in my heart, beyond the cynicism and despair.
I watch children playing.
I see the light in their eyes.
I see their power coming through in spite of the ways they are punished for shining so bright when it doesn’t fit the needs of adults and institutions.
I find my own personal power, hidden away. I coax it out. I choose to live openly and face the fear that lives within me, just as children face their fears.
I find hope in the midst of despair.
I know that as a culture we would not fall into anarchy if freedom and liberation were lived realities for each of us.
I know that as human beings we seek to connect to one another, to find each other, and truly see each other.
I know that the compassion and love that lives within each of us, that fuels the very powerful beings that we are, when set free, will not result in destruction of civil society as we know it.
We too often live in fear of the power within us. It is true that this power, when thwarted, can be destructive.
When the need we have to live in our personal power, to be seen for who we really are, to be valued as human beings, is push aside to meet the narrow needs of institutions, structures, and a society that is fearful, that power can turn to rage.
When adults require children to dim their natural light and power so that they are not reminded of the things they lost in childhood, that power can turn to pain and hurt oneself or others.
I know that we are continuing to develop our ability to shed the past confines of a society and socialization that fears the power within each of us to disrupt the status quo.
Liberation from controlling paradigms that rule our structures, institutions, and relationships will not result in anarchy.
Liberation will result in stronger relationships.
Freedom will result in stronger communities.
Trusting children will give them space to shine bright.
And, it will result in adults finding that light again deep within their souls.
If we begin trust them, we would regain the trust that we lost in ourselves as we followed the path of socialization laid out by our society.
The transformation of our inner selves begins the broader transformation of the world.
Trust would be the path to freedom for children, adults, and our world.