Thursday, January 24, 2008

Children Learn What They Live

Do you remember that poem? I think of it sometimes. I catch myself watching Jack and Sophie, and I wonder what I’m unconsciously teaching them about themselves and about the world as we go about our everyday lives. Every mother hopes her children will learn the best of what she has to teach them. I shudder to think what the children in conflicted places like Kenya are learning.

First thing every morning, while standing at the sink to fill the kettle with water for (the day’s first pot of) tea, I look down at the African Wisdom for Daily Life calendar sitting on my kitchen windowsill. This week it’s running a bit behind. I haven’t been able to flip past the Kenyan proverb for January 20. It’s too striking, too true and too ironic:

Good behavior is your best weapon.

Actions really do speak louder than words. Unfortunately, rather than fighting injustice with good behavior, some people in Kenya continue to turn on one another four weeks after the contested election. I keep reading news sites and other blogs about what’s happening there, and oh, my heart grieves.

So it was especially wonderful to read some good news out of Kenya, a friend’s account of something positive happening among some children in one of Nairobi’s slums.

Please keep praying for the children, and for all the people, of Kenya.

* * * * * * *
Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

(Dorothy Law Nolte, 1972)


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for sharing the link - I've passed it along to several others. The stories bring to life this psalm that we covered in my Bible study this week:

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Answer, O Israel!
"If the Lord had not been on our side
when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us alive
in their furious anger against us;
then the flood would have carried us away,
the water would have covered us,
the raging torrent would have drowned us."
Let us thank the Lord,
who has not let our enemies destroy us.
We have escaped like a bird from a hunter's trap;
the trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124 (Today's English Version)

Anonymous said...

Check out my post on being positive and having a vision at It's written tongue in cheek, but maybe it will initiate a conversation.