I recently posted this photo and these words on Facebook:
I've always loved this photo from South Africa, showing how a caring adult culture encourages and celebrates the joy, accomplishment and possibility of its children. To all my teacher friends at the close of the school year, thank you for your own dedicated caring for our most precious resource. Never has this work been harder, never has it been more needed. Wishing you all the happiness and refreshment of the well-deserved summer ahead!
I can’t help but be struck by the contrast of these laughing, loving, encouraging adults celebrating the child’s exuberance and love of life (something also evident in their own adult bodies and faces) with the next school murder spree and the cynical response of those who care more to protect NRA big money than children’s lives, their petrified imaginations unable to go beyond arming teachers (even though the armed policemen were still helpless against one shooter with an assault weapon). And let’s imagine that schools took their advice and locked every door and the new school uniform was bullet-proof and the armed bodyguards roamed the halls, what kind of life would that be for children? What kind of people would they grow up to be? What kind of teacher would accept working in such an environment?
Our political failings are not just bad decisions, protecting things over people, safeguarding money over human lives. They are failures of character, failures of imagination, failures of a culture willing to stoop so low as to accept as normal the living hell our collective failures have created. Look again at the photo above and feel the life so many have when they choose life, when they choose joy, when they pass it on to the children and celebrate it in the children. I hope it’s a life we all have tasted and I hope many still do, but we need to create the systems and structures and determination to cultivate it, nourish it, sustain it. The teachers I know have done this and though so many are discouraged now, continue to do this.
We all can do this. We just need to choose wisely, here, now, today and tomorrow.