It has taken me a while to post this particular blog. Even now as I write it, I haven’t given much thought as to how I will express my feelings on this topic – it’s a sensitive matter. Instead, I will just write.
I guess it began the first time I heard one of my students say – “You know Ms. Vetere, the world is going to end in 2012?!” I don’t know if it was more of a statement or a question, but it was definitely a concern, on both ends, I believe. This was followed by more and more students over the past year popping up with the same comment/inquiry. When we returned to school just after ringing in the New Year, my students were filled with excitement and wanted to share with me that they were happy to see me as they had survived it turning 2012! They said it in part with humour, in part drama, and the other part as what I read to be FEAR.
I truly believe that there are two states of being in this life: LOVE or FEAR. You may argue that there is joy, happiness, excitement, feelings of bliss (and so on), to which I would say they all fall under the umbrella of LOVE. And you may insist as well that there is jealousy, anger, nervousness, guilt (the list goes on), to which I would point directly to FEAR. Which state of being would you rather consistently exist from? I would hope that it would be from a place of love. However, as I observe the world around me each day, I am sad to report that so many individuals are living in a state of FEAR. Yes, there are moments of LOVE in which we experience the above adjectives but in weighing the scale on a daily basis, it often falls heavier to the side of FEAR.
WHY? Why does the weight fall to this end of the scale? That is not a simple answer. I believe that it stems back to those belief systems we have been engrained with since birth – from our families and friends, from our school system, and most notably, from the media. This is not to lay blame. Our families do the best that they can and carry with them, their own set of belief systems from years prior. We have a school system that has been crafted and shaped for many years and well the media, that’s a whole other story.
In the past few years, there have been several movies that have come to the surface exploring this idea of the end of the world. There are bombs and explosions and dramatic finales. These images are everywhere, in our faces and in the faces of our youngest minds. Why do we live in fear then you ask? Because this is what is presented to us.
Let’s return to the classroom now. How do we deal with these questions, comments, jokes, and most notably fears, about coming times? I will share how I attempt to deal with it.
The most recent time that one of my students commented on the year 2012, I decided that it was a good day to put away the textbooks and to have one of those teachable moments. I asked the students to share with me what they had heard about the year 2012 and from where. They listed their comments about the movies they had seen and the comments they had heard on the news. They discussed the conversations they overheard their parents having with one another or even with them at the dinner table. Then, after all of that was through, I shared my thoughts. But I stated it as just that – my thoughts. I always tell my students that just because something is MY opinion, that doesn’t mean it has to be THEIR opinion. It was just one more option for them to consider.
My belief is that we have brought our earth to a place where it can go no further in existing in its current state and when something can no longer exist in one form, it changes to another. All cycles exist in this manner. We are being brought to a point in which we need to open our eyes to see what we have collectively created and choose to co-create a new place of existence. One where we care for and love our environment, where religions do not separate us in destructive ways, and in which we learn how to work once again in communities together where we each contribute our special gifts and talents. In this new earth we also understand that the world’s resources are plentiful and there is always enough for everyone. Do I believe in an end of the world? No. Do I believe in the falling away of old beliefs and destructive patterns which brings us to a new place of consciousness – yes.
Is this how I worded my whole belief system to a class of 9 year olds? Of course not. But in so many words, I shared with them that there are a lot of signals around us (stronger weather patterns, wars, economic difficulties – which they are all aware of) that are showing themselves to us as reminders that we have an important job to do in fixing our earth and that they have a very important role to play in that job. I explained that I felt it was not the end of the world but the beginning of a new one, a more beautiful one and that it was not literally ending but that just our current state of consciousness or way of thinking was. We are just being encouraged to wake up to those parts of ourselves that were born to live in LOVE and put to sleep the aspects of ourselves that are living in FEAR.
This seemed to make sense to them. Of course it did, because we are born with this knowledge.
I did not press the issue. I did not ask them to comment on what I had shared. I simply let it sink in.
I think that as educators, or parents, it is our job to present other ideas to children. Children need to understand that there are more options to consider. It is important to help kids become critical thinkers and to develop the skill of discernment. I always tell the students – listen to all sides, all bits of information and then question – question everything you hear and ask good questions. Then, decide what works for you – what is true for you.
If children are not taught that they have the right to ask questions, they will just believe what is most forcibly put in front of them, especially from the media. Questions are so important at a time like this. Our questions will help us to co-create the best answers and solutions for our new beginning.
I would like to think that this one conversation, on this one particular school day, helped to ease some of the fears of the children in my class. I hope that it will encourage them to question more and to look forward to a brighter future. I hope that they take these skills into everyday life and learn to let go of fear and live fully in what their souls want to live in, in this new beginning – LOVE.