Children are important to our world. Families are important to our children. Everyone needs a place of security and nurturing, where we can experience unconditional acceptance and forgiveness when we make mistakes. This became extremely evident to me when Mary and I watched four of our grandsons run in the East Shore Conference cross country meet on Saturday. Later that day, we celebrated the birthdays of three of our granddaughters. There were not just members of our immediate family at both events, but extended family and friends as well. All of us encouraged and protected the runners and the birthday girls.
The Yoga Tradition says that children are to be trained and raised in a climate of nurturance and acceptance until they reach the age of reason. Very early in life when they do something that is not helpful for the family or for themselves, they should never be punished or experience parental anger. According to Yoga, they should be diverted from doing that action and led in a different direction. They are not to be disciplined in the punishment version of that word. They are to be trained, so that they continue to remember that they are made in the image and likeness of God. When they are trained, then their spirit is not harmed but they realize that they have to do something in a way that allows their spirit to continue to shine.
Children are to be protected from harm and injury in every way possible so that they can grow to be helpful, happy and confident leaders of their own lives. That can only happen in a loving environment in which they have all their food-, sleep-, affection- and security-needs met. When their left-brain starts to develop, their training in right and wrong becomes more earnest and rational. Then can we ask our children to see more clearly the consequences of their actions. Then is when we consciously teach reasoned morality.
Families in the Fond du Lac culture means aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents as well as moms and dads are generally very protective of their children and do everything they can to help them grow into happy, healthy people. Even when there are terrible abusive patterns in families—like alcohol, drug, food, sexual abuse—when there is a threat to one member of the family, the rest of the family comes to that person’s defense. I would fight constantly as a little kid with my brothers, even hurt them sometimes. But if anyone else tried to hurt them I was there immediately to fight for the offender.
Even though families are so important to us and they are so important to our children and the future of our society, I have noticed that we don’t seem, as a nation and as a government, too worried about the pain of children in poorer parts of the U.S. We are very concerned about children who are still in utero (the unborn), but don’t seem too concerned about the poverty in which many of our U.S. children are raised. We give them some free lunches and breakfasts but don’t do anything about raising their parent’s standard of living or healthcare needs. We don’t seem too concerned about protecting the children who live in places that are being bombed, like Syria or foreign children trapped in war-torn refugee camps.
We are very concerned about the harm that our own children might experience from being separated from us parents and are not as concerned about separating children from their families when they come into the U.S. from dangerous situations in Mexico or Central America. Our government policies even order family separation or expect families seeking asylum to stay in prison (detention) for years while their asylum applications are processed.
I think we need to think of the human family as much as we think of our individual families. I believe we need to tell our legislators to protect all children by protecting all families. Yoga stresses the unity of all life and believes that when others are harmed and hurt, we are harmed and hurt. We, as U.S. citizens are harming ourselves when we let families be harmed. Our national government officials must do everything they can to nurture and protect all children, especially before they reach the age of reason.
I want all the children of the world to know the joy and happiness of our grandchildren—all 15 of them.