Be the Ripple of Change
Just worry about yourself. How many times in our childhood have we heard that? It was the golden rule of my school days. It seemed like a secret code phrase amongst teachers and some parents. The rationale is to keep the peace amongst children. In the moment it might work. It definitely is the road of least resistance.
Some of my friends have parented by that rule. I have seen children who risk their reputation and confess to seeing an offense. They are dubbed a ‘tattle tale.’ Upholding the rules might very well feel more like punishment.
Children instinctively recognize right from wrong at a young age. Teaching by example and having positive experiences can help children develop empathy, sympathy, and compassion. However, there are times when our children receive a different message.
Children are learning. Part of teaching is to validate the concerns of the child who tells and to be mindful not to send the opposite message. A child who seeks out an adult when a friend is being hurt needs to be assured that their actions are praiseworthy.
There are generations of people who have learned to mind their own business. Random acts of kindness are not always the norm nor are they always instinctive. Life has become every man for himself. In some situations turning a blind eye feels safer.
We boast on social media about the kind acts that we witness because they are a snippet of humanity that surprises us. A majority of people will partake in acts of kindness if encouraged to or asked to, but it’s not always instinct. We have taught generations to only worry about their selves.
We have neighbors who keep to themselves. Gone are the days when people welcome their new neighbors by bringing a pie or a casserole. There was a time when this was the neighborly thing to do, but more often, it’s interpreted as being nosey or sticking your nose in where it doesn’t belong. Many seek privacy in a world full of people.
If I had caused problems when I was outside playing as a child, the neighbors would have called my parents, and I knew this. It was an unspoken fact. The result was that I didn’t cause problems. The neighbors watched, and I was accountable to them. They had expectations, and I learned to live up to those expectations. It was ok, and even expected to worry about others and hold the neighborhood children to the rules.
We have become a society of many self-centered people. Some people never think of the impact their behaviors have on others. People are focused on their personal goals, and it then becomes the only goal. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt as long as the goal is met.
We can change one person at a time, starting with ourselves. Go ahead and worry about others. Show someone that you care. Make an intentional effort to help one another.