At a time when we in America are facing (what CNN’s Van Jones calls) “messy truths” about our U.S. democracy it is easy to become discouraged or fearful, no matter your political leanings.
One helpful suggestion when feeling stymied by big emotions is simply: Breathe… Dial in your focus from the overwhelming big picture to what is right in front of you, and… Take the next indicated action.
That may be something as “small” as being very present as you bathe your baby. Or kneeling down and looking your child in the eye as he breathlessly tells you about today’s show-and-tell. Or setting aside your device (even if you’re using it to read this newsletter!!) to dance in the snow (or sand or grass or soil) with your little one. Does this leave you feeling uneasily removed from the pressing issues and actions happening all around?
In my book I share the parable of three villagers strolling along the bank of their community’s river. Suddenly to their dismay they see a child, then another, then many children, being swept past them in the water’s swift current. One villager without hesitation dives in to try and save at least one or two; another dashes up the street to a shop in order to call for rescue help. (There is no cell service in this parable.) The third villager simply runs away, which shocks her companions. They are stunned by her insensitivity and apparent apathy to this tragedy. But she is neither insensitive nor apathetic: she runs her heart out up-river to see how she might prevent the children from falling into the river in the first place.
As a parent (or grandparent or aunt or teacher), you are engaged in an unspeakably important social action–raising a citizen equipped with the kind of robust social intelligence so critical for our evolving world. Parenting for peace in the ways described in my book and programs may lead you to sometimes feel uninvolved in “right now” approaches to social renewal, political or policy reform, environmental activism, and efforts toward spreading peace.
But I have dedicated myself to making the case for what an imperative, long-view healing approach it really is: like FDR said, “We can’t build the future for our youth, but we can build the youth for our future.”
I have a proposition for you: If you’re deeply concerned about today’s world and where it’s going…if you feel like something more is needed to heal our social and environmental issues… if you feel like you want to participate in a “solution revolution” but don’t quite know how… then as Gandhi so famously urged, be the change you want to see in the world, and raise children whose very beings are woven from that change.
Your child(ren) will flourish, and the collective consciousness will be leavened by your calm conviction and devoted action.
And as the holidays are upon us, here is one way to embody, express and model the change you want to see in the world… and in your child: create more ease by simplifying your celebration. The holiday ideas I suggest for new mothers here at mothering.com can enrich any stage of your mothering life — enjoy!