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By Chris Egan
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Emerson’s words, though correct, do not tell the whole story. It is only the potential of a thousand forests that lies within an acorn. Without water, sun, and nutrients from the earth, the potential forest will never materialize.
Our children are like acorns. They each hold an endless stream of human potential within them. Throughout the course of their lives, as we have in our own lives, they will touch and influence countless other lives. Unless someone lives their entire life in complete isolation, this is unavoidable. In ways both big and small we all make an impact in this world and each impact we create ripples endlessly through time. So how do we change the world? We change the world by setting a good example for our children.
“The world is changed by your example not by your opinion”Paulo Coelho
How to set a good Example
Let’s be real, everyone already knows how to do this. How do you set a good example? You do it by being a good person! Be kind. Be patient. Help others. Love others. Avoid harming others. Don’t be a dick! Or perhaps you prefer the golden rule: Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Its simple but it’s not necessarily easy. We live in the real world here, where our patience is constantly tested. A driver cutting you off on the freeway can easily elicit an angry reaction, “ What the f*** man!” Maybe that’s not a big deal, but if your kid is sitting in the backseat, then you’re setting an example for them. You’re showing them that it’s ok to be short tempered and cuss at people that make mistakes. It’s our job as parents to be mindful of these shortcomings and work to correct them. Pobody’s Nerfect! Things will happen. But if we handle it correctly, perhaps even apologizing to our child for our little outburst, then the lesson our child remembers is what we did after the outburst, not the shortcoming itself.
If we want our children to change the world for good, which I will assume we all do, then we should want them to be open-minded. Open minded people ask questions. They seek knowledge. Closed minded people shut themselves off from knowledge—they avoid asking too many questions or risk proving their own opinion to be wrong.
If question-asking was basketball, children would be Michael Jordan – or Lebron, or Kobe – whoever, I don’t sports. You get it. I’m saying children are gifted question askers. Encourage this and help them maintain their inquisitive nature. They’re going to need it.
The best question: WHY?
“Why” might be the most important question of all. This too comes naturally for children, but far too often we brush the question aside as silly behavior or don’t give it the significance it deserves. Why? Because I said so. Why? That’s just the way it is. Taking the time to answer our children’s “whys” does two things: It further encourages them to ask questions and it sets the idea in their mind that they deserve to know why something is the way it is. As a parent, if my child holds on to this one idea throughout their life, my mind will be a little more at ease because I will know that they are better equipped to deal with oppression and injustice in life.
Emerson wasn’t the only man that thought acorns had a story to tell. Henry Ward Beecher said, “Genius un-exerted is no more genius than a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.” Our children all hold the same limitless potential. Life is that, limitless potential. If we can instill the ideas of courage, curiosity, and an eagerness to understand each other then I think our children will realize the potential genius that each one of them is.
Speaking of geniuses, Einstein said, “Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
We can change the world by realizing that we are all uniquely beautiful and by treating each other with respect. But more importantly, we have to realize that, for better or for worse, we already are changing the world with every example we set for our children.
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