How Can We Fix Everything with Society?
A writer's group I am in recently posed the question "How can we fix this?" It was a simple question with no real direction and my first thought was about society. All of those painful things we see on the news. Gun violence. The hatred people seem to have for each other. I thought about two things that are very near to my heart — and both of those things, I think, could help change a whole lot.
Address Mental Health Issues Early and Thoroughly
When mental health issues bend the mind and understanding our children have about the world around them, we need to not be so afraid of addressing these issues. While one may not be thrilled about working through the medical mental health care system, it is an option that is there for us to use and to learn how to manage our daily emotions, social interactions, and also the mental health medical issues that change how we operate.
We can teach our children that our emotions are valid but that how we respond to those emotions is a choice. When those choices are difficult to make properly due to mental health issues, we need to address those issues with heightened mental health care and support.
If we were to work harder to reward the core principles that build a more peaceful and functional society, address mental health issues as we would any other illness, and teach respect, then we have fought half the battle already.
When we hide these things or pretend they are not there, asking our children to tamp down their emotions rather than learning to deal with and express them properly, we are creating future problems in our society. We need to teach our children early how to talk about their emotions, talk about the problems they face, and seek workable solutions.
This especially includes trauma care treatment for our children. Teaching our children that our traumas shape us, but ultimately we are strong and resilient and can empower ourselves for healing — our children grow up feeling like they are masters over themselves and can handle difficulties. We need to empower our children to be mentally strong.
Teach Children to Love Growing Things
My final point is, in my opinion, a big one. Teaching your children to appreciate plant life, the growth cycles of all things, and how to get their hands a little dirty — the right way. The life lessons from plants are many and trees, plants, aquatics, the water cycle, the interconnectedness of our ecological systems are metaphorical for many of the lessons our children need to learn to become productive, caring, nurturing adults.
- Plants seek the sun — always look for the good.
- Caring for plants produces growth and bounty — what we care for and nurture can feed us physically, emotionally and even spiritually.
- Growing things gives back to the earth — generosity gives back in all areas of our lives.
- Plants all work together to make a larger whole (forests, in the oceanic environments, meadows) — we all have our place in the community and we are all a part of something largely good.
- Plants are peaceful and consistent, producing oxygen that feeds our lungs and greenery that nurtures life — there is a great peace and better health to be found in a relationship with natural things.
When we teach our children to care for the soil, nurture seeds into plants, flowers and trees, to care for the bees and butterflies that pollinate them (as well as all of the crops that feed our bellies!) then we teach our children to think about life. About how one thing affects another. How it all works together. And how our (their) actions can have an impact on more than what we just see right in front of us.
This teaches children to nurture and to consider the consequences of their behavior, valuable lessons they can carry into adulthood.
There’s a whole lot of things really wrong with our society. Just watch the news for a few minutes and you’ll be reminded of this.
Consider a perpetrator you see on the news (or someone who has harmed you, personally) and ask yourself: If they had a deep understanding and experience with the measures I mentioned above, might they have chosen a different path? If they carried a deep respect for others and the environment? What if they had learned at an early age to express their emotions in a healthy and responsible way? If they cared about more than their own situation? Could see the bigger picture and seek their own positive impact on the world around them? What if someone had helped them learn to heal their traumas, or if they’d learned how healing it is to take a walk in nature, seek purpose, servitude, and generosity in their lives?
Perhaps I am oversimplifying, or I have a deep hope for the decency of humans, but I think these things would have made a difference. For that perpetrator, for those victims, for the children who see it all happening. I really must believe we all have a chance. That we can do better.
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