Building Community. I use that phrase a lot these days. I was using it before the shooting in Tucson, and Denver and Oak Creek. I want to use it even MORE, now.
In case you haven’t heard about the great work being done by a variety of folks, and most articulated by Dr. Bruce Perry, you might want to wander over to http://www.childtrauma.org/ to understand the concept of what I’m going to refer to as “de-arming” our neighbors.
We build respectful communities by creating children who have experienced living in peace and with equality. Until about age FIVE, children don’t notice the color of other people’s skin. They do notice limb’s missing and other physical signs that the individual doesn’t “look” like a normal human. They may note someone wearing very different clothing, but if they have been raised in an environment that includes a variety of accepted dress, they will not associate dress preference as a sign about class, race, religion, or ethnicity.
It is the child who is raised with the constant judgmental communication (verbal and non-verbal) from parents (most influential) and other family members that notices differences in human presentation as being fearful, intimidating, worrisome, loathsome, distressing, and finally, the feeling of the child being superior.
I do not believe that we will ever evolve far enough to forgo our thinking that we truly need implements that will destroy fellow humans. We are too fragile a race to believe on the whole that we are able to meet conflict and difference with words that will comfort, soothe and compromise. So we will have guns.
But we can “de-arm” our children by role-modeling acceptance, inclusion, respect and equality. If we extend this concept to our neighborhood, our village, our city, state–nation—–could it become the NORM to look for the good in others, rather than fear the differences? What a radical concept for “de-arming” our nation.
Be gentle with our children–some day they will make decisions about building their community.