Now that I am done (DONE!) with my thesis, I am enjoying the opportunity to read for pleasure - though, strangely, my "pleasure" reading looks an awful lot like my "school" reading. Anyway, right now I am working through Education and the Significance of Life by J. Krishnamurti (nice, light reading, kind of like a Harlequin romance novel - NOT!), and I am loving it. It's short and surprisingly easy to read, and chock full of profound nuggets of wisdom.
One of the ideas that really caught my eye is this: "Fear perverts intelligence and is one of the causes of self-centered action." When I read this, I began thinking about Lawrence Kohlberg and the stages of moral development, and the idea that we cannot meet our higher needs for connection and development if our most basic needs, such as those for food, water, shelter and safety, are not met.
I began thinking about some of the more self-centered people I know. (Forgive the judgemental-sounding term, maybe ego-attached people would be better. Or maybe not.) I often find that these people are not "bad" or unkind people, it's just that their first reaction to situations is often to consider the impact on themselves. I began to consider the fact that this could be a reaction to some deep-seated fear: namely, the fear that if they don't look out for themselves, if they don't ensure that their needs are met, then no one else will. They don't trust the world to provide for them.
And I began thinking that, for all the consideration I've been giving to finding ways to teach children about diversity, and responsibility, and creativity, and all those things, maybe the first thing we should consider as humane parents is what I included last in my thesis: Respectful Parenting. Perhaps none of the teaching and lecturing and modelling will do any good if our children do not feel safe enough in the world to be able to turn their attention to the needs of others. Perhaps we need to, first and foremost, ensure that our children have confidence that they are loved and cared for in this world, no matter what, and know that compassion will grow from there.