I was inspired to write this post after talking to my 11year old incredibly humane daughter about a public speech she has been asked to write at school. Her topic “What Happens When It Runs Out?” We discussed all the normal expectations of such a speech such as coal, oil, and so on but realised that perhaps what the world should be more concerned about is what happens when “IT” runs out. The “IT” being renewable humanity resources.
2015 is very much a year in which the Disney words of “It’s A Small World After All’ rings loud and true. People from around the world are instantly accessible to each other through technology and specifically through the tools of social media. Good, bad or whatever is not the point. It is simply the fact.
But as an educator to my children, I question whether the “IT” part of life is starting to run out. “IT” in this blog and inspired by my daughter’s public speech, is empathy, compassion, self sacrifice, love, forgiveness and a deep desire to service others rather than self.
Unfortunately we are witness to this idea of self importance more and more in our world. Personal bests and ruthless, unethical business deals as well as economic decision making has led people to dispose of such a powerful “renewable resource” in humanity. Too often we see people around us in schools, work places, families and general public become consumed with their personal gains and self satisfaction in life that the elements of humanity mentioned above no longer take first place. “Self” becomes the consuming word. Sacrifice and empathy and compassion are no longer prioritised in the discussion palette.
Recently I read about Cate Blanchard’s attack at the ‘selfie” especially with supposed mature like adult minds. I applaud Cate for this, not because I have never had a selfie with a friend of family, but the consuming need to focus on our self. How important do we think we are that a random photo, no indication of what we were doing or where we are, is of some sort of importance. By all means, take photos of events in your lives as a beautiful historian record but to focus on the “self” is questioning this renewable resource for humanity. Celebrities and the “everyday” person appear to have a permanent mirror surrounding their lives that the reflection does not exist for others around them. And how our words an actions are effecting our friends, families and work colleagues. And most importably, humanity.
My role as an educator to my children and students in a class is driven by the ideal of service to others and through this service I strongly believe we gain a deeper self satisfaction to our existence. “Loving” people so much, whether family, friends, students, workmates etc to the point that we want to service their needs and sacrifice for them more so than our own. That we want to be part of a collective gathering so as their triumphs and their mounts of failure are our purpose to serve. There is a richness in this renewable humanity resource that is immeasurable. And I would take it one step further to say there is a morality in this as well. Occupying the notion that self is the only important factor is arguably shallow and of course selfish and I believe that we need to have this conversation with our students and our children. What is the long term effect on this notion that we “Only have one life and should live it as we want”. Perhaps we should have this discussion with a Syrian refugee or a survivor from Nepal or Haiti and they will say “I just want one life to live”. It is not about how much I can destroy in another person, or how much control I have over another person. It is about survival and caring for the people in our lives that matter. “IT” is about sacrificing the materialistic and living with people as co-existors using as many of our renewable humanity resources as we can. That does not mean throw the materialistic out the door but prioritise it so that the “IT”becomes the dominant compass of our lives.
“Renewable humanity resources” is the term my daughter and I have played with and discussed and has provoked some beautiful reflective, engaging and maturing discussions with her of late about life and the importance of being a human being who is on this planet for a relatively short time in comparison to the global and historical timeline. And our legacy is not what materialistic objects we leave behind but what it is we want people to say about us in the every day. Our compassion, our forgiveness, our love, our commitments, our focus on others are all “human resources” which I worry are running out fast on this planet. And I positively encourage in my children to hold close to their ideals on life as they journey through it.
This post cannot conclude without the famous words of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address with his famous words, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Perhaps in this case for the writing of this blog, the term “country” could be replaced with the terms “world” or “family” or “friends” or “work colleagues”. If I can teach my children that life is much richer when you turn away from simply reflecting on your personal needs and reflect more on the needs of others, than I believe that I have fulfilled my obligation as an educator and parent to “sustain human resources” . In return, it will teach my students and most importantly, my own children, that life is as renewable as we choose to make it. Humanity has a purpose to love, to serve, to forgive, to give, to believe in each other, to help one another. Life is not about my personal bests or my own needs. It’s a small world after all!