Once a teacher….
In terms of whatever hope and optimism for society, the world and new generations, it really comes down to two core things: role-models and ‘copying’. One should always be aware of the roles and responsibilities of being a role-model whether one is a father, grandmother, teacher, media reporter, church leader, or political leader. Truth and honesty are probably the two most important qualities there. It is hard to have credibility or any kind of authority without that kind of integrity.
The fact is that people look for structure and direction from others around them. Leaders are key that way. One certainly can’t expect people to be much different from those they look up to or those who rule them in various ways.
And so it comes down to ‘copying’ what is otherwise known as imitating and assimilating whatever behaviors from contexts and, most importantly, the people who surround us in our daily lives. This fact takes on a particular importance within the life of a newborn, toddler, or school-age child.
What are the values and behaviors that our leaders in those situations espouse and demonstrate for the young? Why should we be surprised if we, who never read, we who swear easily, we who value everything in terms of money produce offspring and new generations of young people who copy and imitate exactly what we are? Why should anyone young do as their elders say rather than do what they do?
How we learn: mostly by imitating, a lot of the time, what we see in the world around us, according to how others behave, how they talk and act. It’s really that simple.
If there is no or little courtesy left from previous times, if cheating is ok, if ‘what everyone else is doing ok, then where is the incentive and significant influences for better behaviors, higher values, and significant positive social change in a world which prizes the freedom to be and act downward to the lowest common denominator, exhibited on such mass-popular tv shows as Survivor, Entertainment Tonight, Sex and the City, Toddlers and Tiaras, or Two and a Half Men?
Too often, the pop cultural swamp caters to the lowest, coarsest, most violent (e.g. America’s gun culture, Canada’s namby-pamby politically correct straitjacket laws and social policies, most videogames) and anti-social behaviors in the name of so-called individual freedom.
Simply put, decent, positive, unconventional alternatives in values, beliefs, behaviors, experiences offer the best and only chances for true diversity, richness, compassion, and civility for the future. And that starts from the ground-up, so to speak in child-raising and education and eventually–let’s hope–in laws, justice, and health care.
Society can fare forward from an understanding of the roles played by role-models and positively demonstrable and demonstrated behaviors and experiences. In that, the potential for well-informed, well-rounded, well-balanced citizens and an alternative to a cyclical morass chasing its own tail of ego-based/limited freedom and the increasing social fabric of restless nothingness.