Saturday, February 20, 2010

PTTC part 2

PTTC stands for "Parent's Tao Te Ching" in case you didn't know. :)

"When you teach your children that certain things are good,
they are likely to call all different things bad.
If you teach them that certain things are beautiful,
they may see all other things as ugly....

Call birth, 'birth,'
and death, 'death,'
without seeing one as good
and the other as evil
and your children will be at home with life."

Such a profound thing to say, but how hard it is to do in real life! Humans are built with a strong emotional system, and evolutionarily, we are designed to consider some things "good" because they are beneficial to us, and some things "bad" because they are detrimental to us. Children take this to an even greater extreme because they are only beginning to develop empathy and see most things selfishly. For example a child will think that it's only fair to hit another child when they are mad, (because the other child obviously made them mad) but they understand that it's fundamentally unfair for the other child to hit them (regardless of what they did to provoke it!)

Even most adults are incapable of seeing past the ideas of "good" and "bad." An immature person sees the world selfishly, and uses people to get what he or she wants in the world. A more mature person protects his or her family and friends at the expense of others. A mature person does things to benefit his or her society or group as a whole. A perceptive person does things to benefit not only his or her own society, group, culture, or race, but the society of others as well. A wise person does things to benefit the whole world as a whole, including all life and even non-life, having respect for all things.

Some children are good role models for this. They treat their dolls as real people. They treat rocks as if they are living beings. They care for animals with the same respect they care for people, and cry at movie depictions of animals being killed. They make friends with poor people and rich people, black and white, real and imaginary, without discrimination.

But they will easily lose this empathy if adults model discrimination. The best parents are those who foster a balanced perspective, so that their children grow up without the labels "good" and "bad" to taint every experience they have.

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