Let’s teach our children well


WHEN you leave this world, what kind of child would you have left when your story is eventually told?

William Wordsworth's epigram, “the child is the father of man”, encapsulat­es an unwritten reality most parents face today.

As children, blessed enough to have had the consort of parents, most of us see in them our own lives looking up – to emulate and perhaps relive their lives, with the obvious many refinement­s as we go along.

Any parent will say all they want for their children is to be happy and successful – the ideal recipe for an ideal world.

But this is not an ideal world, not by a long shot.

The world has moved on in leaps and bounds since the past century.

Where once relationsh­ips were initiated by physical meetings or arrangemen­ts between a couple, today it can be done in virtual reality by the touch of a keypad.

Where once education was conducted by face-to-face interactio­ns, today it can be done by the touch of a keypad.

Where once physical cash was required to transact, today it can be done by plastic and the touch of a keypad. The point of my allusion is that the world we exist in, has changed fundamenta­l perception­s and the lived reality.

How many of us can assuredly say that we have inherited the character we had when we were children?

Not many I would guess. That is, if we can even remember that far back or understood, as children, what the word “character” meant.

Circumstan­ces, environmen­t, peer and family influences, among others, constantly shape and reshape what we become.

But in the imperfect world of adulthood and for those who are parents, or even grandparen­ts, the notion that when the baton is passed, it must lead to winning the race that we once started. Success is determined by a Rolex watch, a shining Mercedes or the fancy mansion we own in a glittering upmarket suburb.

Yet, the intrinsic values of simplicity and humility that were once instilled in us seems to desert us in ambition and our zest for glory.

The race and the racer have become embroiled in a very dangerous game, at times betraying the essence and purpose of our lives.

But, of course, it is neither a crime nor wrong to want the best for one's own. That is natural and normal.

The real question then begs is simply: How much of ourselves and our innate character do we forsake in giving to the future that which we have inherited from the past?

With all that is happening in the world today – from wars to a global pandemic and poverty – what we yield to those we leave will charter a world that we once believed we owned. If it’s a legacy of worth that we wish to bequeath, then the brass rings of life diminishes in worth against the value of good character.

Fame, fortune and glory are temporary, as many have painfully learnt, but self-worth and character, despite human frailty and fault, go the entire distance, no matter how rough the terrain.

Perhaps, when our stories are eventually told in the past tense, all we would have desired would have been a lifetime of goodness that once a child carried in his heart, so that the next child and the next would know that life can be equally great with just as little and be worth more.

That gold nugget that we relentless­ly pursue to show the world that we are better than the next, becomes meaningles­s in the end when we are no more, but the value of the heart and soul that shape one's character will live on and on.

There is no substitute for such value. What you leave behind in character will be for all posterity.

As William Shakespear­e once observed: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

What kind of child would you have left behind when your story is eventually told?


Durban North

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