Guns or Roses

What you plant in your heart
Added: Monday, 3 March 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

My first two children's classes with the kids down the road have been awesome, amazing and challenging at the same time. Our first lesson revolved around "unity" – we defined it, learned what it is in Zulu (si hlangene!) and talked about some of its implications. We also sang a song about unity, played a game around it and drew pictures depicting what unity can be like in a family setting.

When they came in the next week singing "we are drops of one ocean, leaves one tree..." I thought I had made some real progress. So I was all the more shocked when I asked them if they loved all the people in the world and they replied "Yes, except for Maria!"

I realized in that moment how much I still have to learn about children and their young, tender hearts and minds. So I took a deep breath, sent a telegram to God asking for assistance and for patience and began the next lesson, talking about "how do we create unity?" We looked at what it means to look for the good in people, no matter how hard it may seem. They explained that Maria is a jealous girl who is arrogant and makes fun of them at school. I asked them whether they had ever asked her to be their friend? Did she have friends at all? Maybe she was alone? We thought long and hard to search for the one good quality that she might have. And the kids agreed it would have to be her talent for mathematics. That was a start. So I suggested we don't try to combat darkness with darkness, but rather with light. Let's try and shed some light on her heart, no matter how nasty and mean she can be and see if we can't slowly help her be a more pleasant person? They got excited by that. We made a drawing to the quote: "O Friend, In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love", and wrote Maria little letters expressing what we thought was great about her. To further deepen on the quote, we planted a sapling in some earth to see if it grows. We realized we would need to feed it water and love over a long period of time to see results. And that's what it's like to plant the rose of love in your heart. It takes time and patience.

We ended the lesson with a jump in the pool and while the girls were having fun, I thought of the weighty task that child-rearing is. I teach them about loving, forgiving and being selfless, but at the same time they are children, young girls at that. And so I also need to teach them about justice, about confidence and standing their grounds. About knowing their worth, their boundaries and protecting them. People could take advantage of them. What a balancing act!

If we spent the money that goes into wars and armaments on the education our children, both morally, spiritually and "secularly" – we would see results within two generations, and probably solve most of the problems we're trying to solve with guns right now. It's just about what you plant in their fertile young hearts that will eventually flourish and rule: guns or roses?

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