Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Boston, Kids, and the Power of Choice

Faced with evil, our kids need to know they can choose to do good. That's how they'll find their answers.

On Tuesday, I met with a couple of my kids at a high school in St. Louis. It was our last class time together. My girls wanted to talk about their lives and Twitter. With some time still left, I asked if they wanted to talk about Boston. "No. That's sad."

On Thursday, I was with a few younger kids at a different school in St. Louis. In the middle of our conversation, one of the kids said, "You know they're going to bomb here too."

What happened in Boston will have a profound impact on our kids. The images of devastation and violence, the unpredictability of terror, the suddenness with which happiness and joy can turn to tragedy - all have the potential to shake a kid's understanding of the world. The children in Boston, effectively having lived under martial law and so close to unexpected violence, will have a lot of questions, if they don't already.

We need to answer them.

We seem to hesitate more at describing good and evil, calling an action right or wrong. Instead, we have become overwhelmed by the complexity in making those determinations, making the labeling of something as "evil" seem categorically out of place in our enlightened society.

There's value in dissecting this complexity for philosophers, social workers, writers, lawyers, adults in general. But adults need simplicity too; even adults need heroes. Maybe that's why we're so wont to find heroes - we've lost our bearings on what is good and what is evil, and we'll grasp onto any indication that good can still exist.

Our kids need to grow up learning right from wrong. They don't need us to see there are bad people in the world. But they do need us to be the good people in their lives, to let them know that the bad people can't win, to explain that even when they're scared that there are people looking out for them.

The challenge is when apparently normal people, like the two Boston bombers, or when those supposed to be fighting for good, like police officers, do something evil. No matter what we do, we will still hear stories of normal people committing evil actions.

That's why kids need to know that everything they do is a choice. They have the choice to help or to hurt, to do good or evil. Those men in Boston had that choice. They were normal people, but they chose evil actions.

Those people who ran into the blast sites at the marathon - they are normal people too. But they chose good actions. They chose to save and help and repair what evil tried to destroy. They are heroes.

In the wake of this whole episode, a lot of kids, and adults too, are probably most fearful of the lack of control they have. Someone could hurt them at any time. They may feel powerless in the face of all the danger and uncertainty.

But this is a chance to empower our children. This is a chance to let them know how powerful choice is. This is a chance to let kids know they can choose good or evil, that their actions can change lives.

And for those who are afraid, this is a chance to show them that America protects those who choose to do good. The world can be scary, but our community is here for those who want to help it, not hurt it. Those who do the opposite will end up surrounded by hundreds of police, watched by millions of Americans, stuck in a corner tired and hungry and utterly alone.

Our kids need to know they can make a choice. They need to be told about stories like this one in Boston so that they can be informed when it comes time for them to start making their own choices. 
And we need to trust them to make the right ones.

That trust - with information, with choice - is what will empower our kids, no matter what violence or hate they are faced with. It will empower our people to be free when others would take that away from us.

Elad Gross is the President of the Education Exchange Corps

No comments :

Post a Comment