“The good man is the man who, no matter how morally unworthy he has been, is moving to become better.”~John Dewey
Do you remember how annoying it was, at the beginning of each school year, when you had to wear those baggy, too tall uniforms, specially designed for you to grow into? There is that moment in childhood where you move from being unselfconscious and living only in the here and now to suddenly being aware of how you appear to others. I think this awareness is more of a problem for females than for males. I am over generalizing here, but men seem to emerge from childhood with a confidence in their own good looks and physique that is not grounded in reality! The most unappealing, overweight, disheveled working man will whistle at a hot model type walking down the street and think he has a chance. Meanwhile, the most attractive, gorgeous body female is thinking of the flaw that only she can see.
But we are a superficial people, tending to judge others by their outer appearance. We hang labels on whole groups of people, and condemn them by the little we have heard about them, when each individual has their own story. The human being is such a complex, challenging mixture of culture, environment, genetics, socialization, and life events that when we seek to know each other, we can only ever know a small piece. And yet we think we know and can predict the behavior of another.
One of the challenges of teaching adult students is coping with the tremendous strains they are under as they strive to improve their lives. Whether it is the financial strain of having to cut back on their working hours to allow for the demands of full time school, or the emotional strain of feeling as if they are abandoning their family, it is difficult for them to see that short term sacrifices lead to long term gains. Ad if their relationship with their significant other is on shaky ground to begin with, for the one at home, having to compete with knowledge, with exposure to new ways of thinking and an open mind can be the downfall of that relationship.
Why is growth so threatening? Watching the development of the minds, bodies and characters of children helps you to understand that our purpose on earth is to learn, to grow and to evolve as much as we can before time and decreasing abilities slow us down. It is tempting to believe that at some point in your life you have all the answers. You know what you know, and are happy to help others, to tell them how to think. But the best teachers are those who don’t give you the answers, but who help you to ask the right questions.
It was Einstein who said “I have no special talent; I am only passionately curious” and this is what drove him. But often our ego convinces us that we have arrived, we have achieved. Perhaps it is the completion of a university degree, the piece of paper that confers some indication that you are an expert in some field. But education should open doors, not close them. It should help you to recognize that there is always more to learn, that the journey is the prize, not the destination.
Our ego loves to fool us into thinking we alone have the best outlook on life. But it is often when we are the most confident that we get tripped up; for in thinking we have the answers we don’t pay attention to the flaws in our logic. So it is always good to practice humility, for sometimes it is the person who is the least experienced who will see the flaw, and ask the question that exposes the weakness in our argument.
This Friday morning I encourage you (and me) to be open to the possibilities; be curious about those things we have yet to learn; allow ourselves room to grow. So long as we are on this earth we have opportunities to evolve and develop, in fact we have a responsibility to do so. May you reflect on your mistakes and recognize them as lessons in life; may you forgive yourselves for ignorant or insensitive actions and learn from them; may you practice humility in order to be receptive to even greater possibilities ahead.
Have a fantastic weekend Family!