Every Child is Potentially the Light of the World.

Every Child is Potentially the Light of the World.

“Every child is potentially the light of the world—and at the same time it’s darkness; wherefore must the question of education be accounted as of primary most importance.” Bahai writings

The keywords in the above quote are; potential light, darkness, and education. Throughout history, education has been a fundamental factor in the advancement of civilization. At times this education has brought mankind light and at others darkness. Education has given man the ability to place manned rovers on Mars and acquire new medical knowledge. Advancements in communication have made the world flat. At the same time, mankind has created a world laden with moral dangers: selfishness born of materialism, children alienated from their parents, and a society in decline.  These conditions are not confined to race, class, nation, or income status. 

At an early age, children are asked,” What are you going to be when you grow up?” We send them off to school to find the answer. In school, they study various branches of knowledge in order to choose a profession based on demand and earning potential. In the end, the future is one of studying to work, working to earn, and earning to spend.  It’s a materialistic treadmill. The result is a society aimed at earning more and more money. Despite all the success and material gains, most people are still not happy and we are raising a generation of people who are living for themselves. This reminds me of the lyrics from the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie, “Kids! I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today! Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way, what’s the matter with kids today?”

Ask a child today what do you want to be when you grow up and they still don’t know, and now, many don’t care. What caused these young people to disconnect? When did the light of education dim in so many eyes? The methods for educating children are well established as evidenced in our technological and scientific advancements. But these advancements have come at a cost. Somewhere along our journey, we lost our children. As mankind enters a new age of maturity, we must develop a new purpose for educating our children. The tree of educational knowledge must add branches that evolve the inner and outer child as well as develop useful skills that benefit mankind.

I don’t think anything is wrong with today’s kids. Their true essence is there, often hidden inside. Through good counsel and education that essence can be brought to light. A quote by Alexander den Heijer may shed some light, “When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” Instead of focusing on “fixing” the child, let’s focus on adapting the environment to ensure the child’s success. As the child gains inner and outer success and perfection, his light begins to shine.

Our primary and most urgent responsibility is the education of our children.  And, their teachings don’t only come from books. In early childhood a firm foundation must be laid; a foundation focused on refining character, learning virtues, and developing good behavior. Knowledge achieved through traditional book learning is praiseworthy when coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character. These traits must be taught and practiced every day at school.  Fortunately, mindfulness, wellness, meditation, yoga, and art classes are appearing in school systems all over the world. 

The evolution of mankind is in full display in every child’s face you see. As each child’s inner light shines, it will surely brighten the world. As Neil Diamond sang,” Turn on your heart light. Let it shine wherever you go. Let it make a happy glow for all the world to see.”  It is truly our responsibility, as those that have come before them, to cultivate and support these additional branches of education. If we do not equip them with the social and emotional skills they need to conquer a rapidly changing environment, then their failures will be ours. Let us plant the seeds that will one day grow into a canopy of success in the hands of today’s youth. 

 

 

 

   

 

Showing Up: The Courage to Live a Vital Life

Showing Up: The Courage to Live a Vital Life

When this topic was given to me a few months ago, I thought writing about a vital life would be very easy. After all, as a medical professional, when we talk about vitals we are speaking of blood pressure and a pulse. Having a blood pressure and a pulse doesn’t necessarily mean you’re living a vital life. 

I think the first thing I realized is that people probably define joy and vitality differently. So, let me try to explain what it truly means to me. 

When I was growing up, my father went to work every day to provide for my mother and me. Mom kept the house, made dinner, washed clothes, and never worked outside the home. So maybe it wouldn’t come as a surprise that my father felt I would do the same. I would marry a good man who would provide while I manage the home, hearth, and kids. My father felt strongly that I didn’t need higher education. 

I did marry well and we had two beautiful children. All was going according to my father’s plan until I realized that something was missing. I felt that I hadn’t yet completed “me”. While I loved being a wife and mother, I felt that I wasn’t living up to my full potential. There had to be more. I didn’t know how to think outside of the box. I was doing what others expected of me and nothing more. I needed to change that. I set out on a path of self‐discovery. That path of self‐discovery was attained through education. I went on to complete my Bachelor’s degree where I learned of my interest and skills in Biology. To build upon those skills, I entered into podiatric medical school. At the age of 42, I graduated as a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. Those short sentences don’t begin to sum up the journey. It was not always easy. It was incredibly hard for me to step out of my comfort zone, remove the blinders, learn about myself, and focus on attaining my full potential. I had my husband and children in my corner the whole entire time. 

My education has provided a venue to touch the lives of others. Every day I know I have the ability to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s more than just the medical knowledge to deal with their podiatric issue. It’s knowing that I can make a patient smile who just lost his wife of 50 years. It’s listening to my patient’s stories and laughing along with them. It’s leaving a little bit of me with them. That brings me joy. 

We ALL make a difference in someone’s life. In every encounter we have, we leave something of ourselves with someone else. We need to make the choice to make it a positive and joyful encounter. 

A path to a joyful and vital life begins with learning about yourself and removing the blinders imposed by others. Through this mindful self‐discovery, you can begin to make a positive impact. I think that joy is personal. Joy lingers in your heart. We spark joy when we give of ourselves whether it be in our careers or in our family life. 

Life is dynamic. Be sure to show up! Along the way, we can choose to just be observers or participants. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone and try new things whether it be professionally or personally. We may fail but there will also be great successes. That’s what is meant by vitality! 

Live your best, vital life and be mindful of the joyous moments along the way! 

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