This is perhaps, a rather personal blog post, but this week demands that we be personal and open and not ignore what has been happening in the world. If we are honest with ourselves, what has been happening around the globe is nothing short of the Western world tearing itself to pieces with a bigotry and hate we haven't seen in decades .... and I am sad. I am sad for the world, and I am sad for our children, pupils, and young people, who are growing up in this world. With this sadness, however, is a small sense of hope, hope that between us who believe in love and kindness and compassion (and I believe this to be a majority of people), we can teach our children that hate and anger are not the way to a better world.
In RWS, when we get feedback from teachers and parents about what our programme has done for their children quite often it will be about the children being able to focus more in class, children able to set goals, children able to believe in themselves. The most powerful feedback we have received, however, is from a mother who said something so simple, so seemingly small and inconsequential, she said "my son is kinder since doing the programme." Her son is kinder; she told us he was kinder to his friends .... and that actually all of his friends seemed to be kinder as well.
If there is something more important we should be teaching our children, I don't know what it is. To be kind, to be compassionate, to be empathetic, to be giving, caring, loving, and to want to help others, this is what we should be teaching our children on a daily basis. Kindness is such a simple thing, it is simply acknowledging that that person next to you is a miracle of a human being, with as much rights as you to be here and to live peacefully and with joy. Someone who firmly believed this was Jo Cox, a mother, an MP, and a believer in human rights for all. Jo was someone who wanted to make a positive difference in this world, who cared about people less fortunate then ourselves, and who was a shining example for us all to actually get off our butts and try to help others. Jo was the epitome of kindness, and what a shining representation of what it means to be kind she was.
Her death on Thursday, along with the tragic mass shooting in Orlando, has been a wakeup call for all of us, in a world where its becoming increasingly apparent that violence is the accepted answer to someone who doesn't agree with you or isn't like you. When did this way of dealing with difference become the norm? Jo would want us to break this pattern, this inclination to give into the hate and violence. But her husband puts it best:
"She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now. One, that our precious children are bathed in love, and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn't have a creed, race or religion - it is poisonous. Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. Jo would have no regrets about her life. She lived every day of it to the full."
So how can I finish this blogpost .... I want to finish it on a positive note, with a call to action for all of us, a rallying cry to everyone that believes in a loving, caring, and compassionate world - Let us not give into the hatred and bigotry that is pervading our lives at the moment, let us look at the children of this world and imagine the kind of world that they would want to live in .... and let us make that world a reality. Let us work together to make the change we want to see in the world.
I challenge you all to question your prejudices and your preconceptions. I challenge you to talk to someone who you would never normally talk to, and to really listen to them, ask them about who they are, their dreams and hopes for their future. I challenge you to accept your children for who they are - yes, warts and all! I challenge you to be kind to every single person you meet, every single day .... Let us be the change we want to see in our world, if not for yourself, for you children, for all the children in this world.
This article was originally posted on the RWS website on the 18th June, 2016