Friday, March 04, 2022

Our Children Are Our Strength

I'm already against the next war. 

In his 2019 inaugural address, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky told his nation's lawmakers, "I do not want my picture in your offices: the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids' photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision."

I will not call the savagery against the Ukrainian people a war between nations. This is not the Russian people attacking the Ukrainian people. I blame it on a sick man and who has surrounded himself with sick men.

The performer Sting sang, "I hope the Russians love their children too." I don't need to hope; I know they love their children. I have friends and colleagues in Russia who feel as all decent people do about their children. I know that at least some of them are in the growing crowds in the centers of Russian cities, risking arrest and worse, to protest against the evil being perpetuated by their strongman dictator.

Most people who read here are early childhood educators and parents of young children. I know that every one of us are thinking of the children: our own as well as the children who are living through horror that most of us can't imagine. Indeed, I know that we are thinking of the children of Syria and Afghanistan and South Sudan as well. We cannot help it, even as we cannot fathom it. 

Their frightened faces, their quivering bodies, their tears, and their anguish are a part of us. We cannot help it, even as we cannot fathom it. 

We hold our own children more closely. We cannot look away from images of their dead bodies. We hear the cries of their mothers as we tuck our own children in at night. Our chests fill with the fierce protectiveness of those every day citizens turned soldiers. We cannot help it, even as we cannot fathom it.

Vladimir Putin grew up under Joseph Stalin, his grandmother was the evil tyrant's personal cook, another dangerously psychotic man. His brothers died in childhood. His father was severely wounded in war. His grandmother was killed by Nazis. None of this is an excuse, but rather an explanation: he has always been surrounded by depravity. That is always the story behind sick men. And today, his depravity is planting the seeds for future depravity. 

It's rumored that Putin has two daughters, maybe three, maybe more, who he has never acknowledged in public. His mental illness is such that he clearly views his family as a weakness he must hide. This fact alone tells me this is a sick vacuum of a man. 

But we know he is wrong. Our children are our strength. They are the best of us. They are the reason we can do courageous things. Our children are our purpose. Our children are the one pure thing capable of uniting us across borders and cultures. It is why President Zelensky knows that the only decent decisions are those that we make with our children, not just in mind, but at the center. To do otherwise leads to depravity.

War is what happens when we no longer have children at the center of our lives. 

That is why I'm already against the next war. Hold your children close, listen to them, make every decision with them at the center. And know that the world needs us: legions lifted by the love and compassion our children inspire in us. That is the only thing that will break this horrible chain of depravity.


"Few people are better qualified to support people working in the field of early childhood education than Teacher Tom. This is a book you will want to keep close to your soul." ~Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child, and Get Over It! Relearning Guidance Practices.
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