Is this you: you’re on your couch, scanning through facebook, looking at posts by people who are cooler than you because they got off the couch and did something? Have you realized yet that the people you follow are people who remind you of the version of yourself that you want to be?
Have you ever met someone who is different from you? Actually had a conversation about who they are, what life is like for them, how they got to be where they are in life?
It’s natural for us to gravitate towards others who are similar to us. There is nothing wrong with that, on the surface. The trap that so many have fallen into is to see that border and to stop looking beyond it.
Parenting in this age for some is a very different experience from what we grew up with. A century ago, children were not expected to survive to adulthood. Emotionally, it was simply easier to not get too attached, because you never knew if they would be there in the spring. Life was hard for most everyone, just trying to get by. This hardened most people’s hearts to the plights of others, as the “self” had to be paramount.
With our increasingly expensive modern science and healthcare, things have shifted drastically. There is finanancial support for those who are poor; most of the basic needs can be purchased at mass produced, at relatively little cost. Children in rural areas of the United States have a very good chance of surviving. Even in the cities, the most likely causes of death involve each other, not starvation.
This has given rise to a sea of people who have every reason to believe that this is the best we will ever have, as it truly is the best we’ve ever had it. We are comfortable. We can survive almost effortlessly. The “self” has been taken care of. Even the ever present threat of world destruction of the Cold War has been largely forgotten.
Except that’s not actually true for everyone. If you’re one of the ‘majority,’ it is true. People are so very good at divisions, aren’t they? Always “us” and “them,” not “all.” There is an entire world of people who are not actually taken care of. In fact, they are being crushed by the very comfort that you are taking for granted.
In this new comfort of many decades, parenting has shifted considerably. Each child is cherished. We each want to make things better for our kids than we had it. We love on them with all our might, sometimes even in misguided ways. This is good.
But consider how a child who has little adversity in their life grows up. Never having faced the hard truths that life starts with survival. That the best way to survive is to band together as teams, groups, friends, families. That a day may come that you must rely on the person next door who you’ve never met before because you didn’t need to. Or your life might depend on whether the person on the other side of town who is at your grocery store is wearing a mask.
As parents we have made life comfortable for our kids. The lesson here is that we need to look for ways to get our kids out of their comfort zone so that they understand the importance of “us together,” not just the “self.” The earlier, the better. We don’t need to harm our kids. But we do need to show them what happens outside of the bubbles we created for them.