The little children shall

It had to happen. The children needed to lead. The time of decision was approaching. The time of no turning back. The final test.

Ragnarok wasn’t a precise term, but it was sufficient enough to make people take notice.  Armageddon, the Second coming – the Rapture. Whatever, as long as they took it seriously. As long as they remembered, passed it down from generation to generation, so the idea was set in them, like DNA. It wouldn’t do for them to forget.

But the children – they were the ones we had been waiting for. Not us. That message that came through the Hopi nation wasn’t for us. It was for our children.

But not all of them.

Conservation of matter works with intelligence and ability too. It turns out there is only so much to be handed out. So instead of it being averaged out like it had in the past, it was sharply skewed now.

They  first noticed all the children with autism, with Asperger’s, those on the spectrum. How could they not?

But the others. They are only now appearing. They were among us all along. The bright-eyed ones. The awake ones. The leaders, the visionaries, the inventors.

They were created out of the same stuff as the loners, the suicides, the school shooters. They had the same chance to pass over into the darkness, the danger. Both had the same level of aspiration and anxiety. Both had the same level of craving and desire that are standard issue with all humans.

But the heroes, the saviors, were the ones who had learned to delay their appetites – not to do without, but to shave up. they learned that the best indeed came to those who chose to wait.

They were not born with this ability. They did not have any more “will power” or “discipline” that the other children, the lost children.  They did not have greater IQs either. But somehow they chose the correct path, the slow but sure one, the one that leads to hope, and more importantly, they stayed on it.

The fast way, the quick way, the instant gratification way was the easy love, but the slow quiet death.

They weren’t especially unloved or ignored, these shadow children, these suicides, these school shooters. Some of the saviors were also from broken homes, homes with just a mother, or even just a grandmother. Some of them were equally bullied at school, equally lost and confused.

In many ways they were the same, made up of all the same ramshackle, tumbledown stuff of any normal childhood, the same despair and grief we all experience in isolation, all feeling uniquely alone, unfairly overlooked.

The bright ones, the awake ones, were different in that they chose to not idolize their lack and loss.  They didn’t identify with it. They didn’t name themselves “divorce” or “ignored” or “poor”. They worked with what they had, no matter what it was. They made a torch out of a spark, and used that flame to light the path.

The others fed on their pain, growing it in secret, nursing their injury (the same thing the others used as a stepping stone) and growing it day by day, into a pearl as large as an ocean, a chasm as vast as a canyon.

They grew their pain (the same pain) into a weapon, a feeling of frustration, of being-owed, of an account balance fallen short. They forgot (or never knew) that their pain wasn’t special, wasn’t personal.  Or rather, it was personal, because it was part of being a person.

But they took it as a special unspecialness, an intentional slight, a deliberate attack, instead of as a challenge, a choice.  They could have chosen to rise above, to fly clear of the debris and dirt of the world. They could have chosen to ignore the noise of all kinds that swirl around, but instead chose to allow it to infect them, chose to see it as an attack instead of an opportunity.

The ones who will lead us now, the little children, they will be our healing, if only we will listen to them.

We too have a choice.

Bad seeds

I think it is very dangerous to spread news about young boys and guns in school. The stories about mass shootings at school where boys are killing strangers just encourage more of the same, rather than preventing it.

I think the media mentions it in the news so that everybody else knows what to look out for and be careful. But the problem is that when they spread the news they’re also telling other boys here’s a thing to do. People who never thought about taking a gun and killing random strangers at their school now have that idea in their head. It’s not that the rash of it spreads on its own, it’s that we plant the seeds.

So now, kids who feel ignored and overlooked have an idea of how to get attention and be noticed. Any attention, even negative, is attention. Attention is energy. That is what everybody wants. Being famous for a bad thing is still being famous. And, briefly, they feel powerful, which they have not felt before.

We have to address that sense of powerlessness and give everybody the attention that they need. Every person has the chance to grow up into a beautiful flower. Ignored, abused – they will grow up into misshapen weeds.

It is our choice.

All people need to learn how to express themselves and how to respect others while they express themselves. All people need to learn how to self-soothe and not rely on others for their self-esteem and happiness.

Achieve this and we will have peace.

People control – on school violence and gender roles

We don’t need gun control, so much as people control.

If you ban guns, then only the people who obey laws will not have guns. The people who don’t obey laws will have as many as they want. They are the ones who kill people anyway.

We need to address why people, especially young boys, are killing other people.

We need to address the rage and powerlessness that young boys are feeling and counter that. They kill to make themselves seen and heard. Address that in a healthy way, early on, and they won’t feel a need to kill.

We have to address the sense of hopelessness and alienation they feel.

When boys are told to not cry, to “be a man”, they are not allowed to be in touch with their softer sides. They are molded into an unnatural shape, like a bonsai tree. But unlike a bonsai tree, they aren’t shaped into anything beautiful, but warped.

If a boy acts in any way other than the traditionally masculine role he is seen as either gay or a girl. He is emasculated by his peers. He is a “pussy” or a “fag” or “has no balls”. A guy who is caring, who is considerate, who is loving, is seen as not a guy. This is unhealthy and damaging to him as a person.

The only way that guys are allowed to express themselves is through being physically aggressive. So is it any surprise that they become violent, and the only way they feel that they can be seen and heard is to use violence? Gun violence is the most extreme form of “acting out,” but it is still in line with being a guy.

First, we must drop all the “rules” about what it means to be male.

Our society has really started to raise its collective consciousness about women’s rights and roles, but we’ve failed the boys. We tell women that they can be anything they want to be but we don’t say the same thing to boys. We tell women that they can be doctors or lawyers or mechanics, but we don’t support boys who want to be dancers or artists or stay-at-home-Dads.

Sure, they can be, but at a loss to their masculinity. Sure, they can be, but they run the risk of being seen as not male. In American society, that is the same as not being a person.

When a woman has a job that is seen as being traditionally “male”, she is a groundbreaker. When a man has a job that is seen as traditionally “female”, he is seen as not being a man. For a woman, it is a step up. For a man, it is a step down.

Let’s drop the “rules” for what defines someone as “male” or “female” and start thinking about what it means to be a person. Let’s focus on character and compassion instead. Let us let people be people, and not gender.

Let us also teach everybody – boys and girls together, as many ways to express their emotions and needs. Humans need connection. We are not solitary beings. We have to communicate with each other. But not all of us are good at communicating with words. We all need to learn different “languages” – of art, of dance, of music. We all need to learn as many ways as possible to “get it out” of ourselves. Bottled up feelings tend to bubble over in unpleasant ways.

Remember how frustrated a small child gets when something isn’t right? He wails and whines and fusses. He’s hungry, or tired, or something hurts, or he needs something that isn’t there. His frustration grows and grows until someone figures out what is wrong and fixes it. Sometimes a parent will say “Use your words” to remind him that he has to communicate his needs. Then he has to slow down and think about what it is that he needs so he can express it. Then the parent can help.

But what if he doesn’t know what is wrong? Or what if he hasn’t been taught the words?

There is a trend these days to teach sign language to infants. They are taught a gestural language because it is easier for them than speech at that point. The frustration level is reduced dramatically. Instead of guessing what is wrong, the parent knows because the child has said it with gestures.

But what if you are older? What if you know a lot of words? And what if they still aren’t enough?

I believe that this, along with the rigidity of the masculine gender role, is the heart of the problem. I believe that everybody needs to learn how to express themselves in multiple “languages”. Bring back art programs. Bring back music in the school. Let everybody take a turn at theatre. Or gardening. Or cooking, or sewing, for instance. Everybody needs to learn the skills necessary for life, for being an independent person, anyway.

I also believe that everybody needs to get moving. Lack of physical exercise results in too much pent up energy.

We can turn this around. We can’t wait for the government to do it, or the school systems. It will take too long for the committees to study it. Every person who cares for a young person is responsible for this change. Anything counts. We can’t do it all, and we certainly can’t do it all at once. But we have to start.

Go to the library for ideas. Check with the Y, or the community center. Get moving, get creating on your own. Think it costs too much? It is cheaper than a coffin.

The life you save will be that of your young friend and twenty random strangers.

Occupy the art.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if our society valued creativity more? Students would get scholarships for their art instead of their ability to play a sport. People would flock to see them perform a symphony they created instead of seeing them face off against each other on the field.

When we support sports over arts, we are supporting aggression over creativity. We are saying with our stadiums and our sports scholarships that violence pays. We are saying that the jocks are the heroes and the artists are the zeros.

Now, we certainly need sports too. We need physical activity. We need movement. There are way too many kids and adults who are inactive and obese. They are way too many people with diseases that could have been prevented by being active. And there are many valuable lessons to be learned from team sports. People learn about discipline and how to work together. They learn about how each member of the team is important to the outcome.

But sports aren’t everything. We can encourage sports and the arts. In fact I think that everybody in school should learn both. Have the jocks learn how to paint or play a saxophone. Have the artists learn how to play tennis or swim.

Arts and sports need to both be offered as team and individual options. There is a lot to be learned in working together and also in shining on your own. Basketball and being a gymnast should be equal. Playing in a symphony and painting a picture should be equal.

People need to learn as many ways to express themselves as possible. Humans have a lot of pent up energy in them that needs to get out. That energy is physical, emotional, mental, psychic, spiritual. We have many different parts to our personalities that need to be expressed. Communication isn’t just with words.

Perhaps when we get to this point that I see, we won’t have any more school violence. We also won’t have anywhere near the levels of depression and anxiety that we currently do.

But let’s not wait for the schools to do it. We don’t have to wait for committees to study this and funding to be allocated and lesson plans to be created. Let’s just do it on our own. Let’s do this from the ground up. Let’s start at home.

Let’s start an arts revolution right where we are. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. Get some crayons and some paper. Buy a kazoo. Go to the dollar store or Goodwill or Big Lots and find inexpensive art supplies. Get a notebook and start writing. Make up a play. Sew a costume. Design a garden or a house.

It won’t look great at first. Nothing ever is. A child’s first steps are pretty wobbly. A first sketch is pretty wobbly too. Just keep doing it. The point isn’t the product. The point is the production. When you are making art, you are making yourself at the same time. The goal isn’t the painting or the sonata. The goal is the part of you that you found along the way.

This isn’t just for kids. Adults of all sorts will benefit too. I’m interested in all people learning to express themselves creatively. I’m a little more interested in getting kids to be exposed to the arts because it means that they will not be as self-conscious about it. They will learn that being creative is a normal part of being human and not an extra.