Where This Meets That
This was “Field Day” week at my children’s elementary school.
The kids participated in various silly races involving potato sacks and toilet plungers filled with (clean) water, among others. I was fortunate enough to attend most of the events for both my participating kids and thoroughly enjoyed seeing their enthusiasm and lighthearted enjoyment of all the activities.
One thing that particularly struck me was an old lesson resuscitated by my son’s kindergarten peers. Amid all the laughter and delighted squealing, there are bound to be tears. A kid gets a skinned elbow or a teacher’s reprimand for perhaps going a little “too crazy”, and emotions follow.
I saw it happen a couple times there, but it was the reaction of their classmates that really stood out. In each case, several random kids found it in themselves to approach the hurt one and give comfort in their own genuine and individual ways.
These displays of kindergarten compassion touched me. They reminded me of the old adage that, “everything I needed to know I learned in kindergarten”.
In kindergarten, most kids still see the world through innocent eyes. For most of them, the teasing that will follow in coming years – both giving and taking – has yet to take root. Skin color, hairstyles, cleanliness, and clothing quality tend to fly under their radar.
Most of them still see the world as we were made to see it.
I wrote a song once called “Hide & Seek” that tried to capture this spirit:
Every time the water breaks, the world awakes anew to a stranger’s pair of eyes
New birth, a new beginning in a fragile paradise that no one can surmise
It’s right there in the beginning, eyes too blind to see
And though none of that really changes, it sure seems out of reach
Pavement falls slowly to our heels as we try to feel our way through the courses in our days
Always trying to learn ourselves, because by knowing ourselves we can know everybody else
It’s right there in the beginning, lights too bright to see
And though none of that really changes, it sure plays hide and seek
We have at our core a sense of community and solidarity that we must cling fast to, with strong hands. As Gandhi observed in Non-Violence in Peace and War, “It is the law of love that rules mankind. Had violence, i.e., hate, ruled us, we should have become extinct long ago.”
Jesus famously declared that, “the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Perhaps we could all stand to look with new eyes to those kindergarteners among us to teach us a thing or two about ourselves and what we should aspire to be.