Farming for the Future
Heroes Like These
There was a time when heroes lived among us; quietly working away in their ordinary lives, never boasting or talking about the extraordinary things they once achieved. These were grandfathers who had gone to war - some as young as 15 - to fight for a better future for those to come. Such sacrifices that make the wars fought today seem all too petty.
Then I compare this with news of today's youth in Britain: The all-too-familiar image of a hooded teenager making gun gestures and boasting about how there is nothing wrong in taking drugs and stealing as long as "you're not caught".
And in comparing the two "images" of the 15-year-old boys, I realise you can't fake character, nor can you simply teach it as though it were a school subject. You can only instill it - or reverse it - through generations of self-action and example.
I am not the type of guy that usually wishes for something. I am on the whole happy with my lot. However, I wish we taught ourselves that being here alive isn't just for the living, it is for the cultivating. As the word "cultivate" suggests, we shouldn't just live passively.
We are here, now, with the opportunity to help one another grow and evolve toward an enlightened existence of harmony, balance and compassion - a loving compassion directed toward all beings.
It is a learning process; no one is perfect. In my dealings with other people I ask this question of myself: How can I be indiscriminatingly, unrelentingly compassionate? Compassionate with that friend in need, that bothersome neighbour or even that driver who has just made me see red.
Through this practice we begin to cultivate our life, farm it so that so we leave a better crop of harvest for future generations to reap. But we don't do this just for the benefit of "our-others", we do this so that our own trip through life is one that truly enriches and provides a foundation of learning and understanding, which is constantly - in turn - helping our cultivation of life.
It's a full, and beautiful, circle, rather than the vicious one we hear about so often.
Wisdom of Youth
It is through this practice we must guide our children.
Although we know that with age comes wisdom, I believe that wisdom is not taught. It comes from within. As adults all we can do is generate an environment that nurtures wisdom, and share the experience of living in a world no longer new to us with children. That is the only "upper hand" adults have on youth, not that they are necessarily wiser.
I have always had faith in the wisdom of children. They are, in fact, divining rods to wisdom. With a little guidance they can aid those passed out of childhood find the true source of youth wisdom: continually being able to see things in a totally different way.
If a sector of today's youth in Britain has a "yob" image, then we must listen to what they're saying and not dismiss them. We must look to their "heroes" that perpetuated this image, and also realise that eventually people from their own generation - and the generations after them - will dismiss the culture when new heroes take their places.
And we can help in this natural selection. We can give children a better choice of heroes. We can cultivate our lives and be like those grandfathers I mentioned, or we can be like the war-mongerors of today.
Each of our lives is our own patch of dirt. We have the free will to farm what we want, but we must farm as all good farmers do - with an eye for future seasons and the future life of the soil. For what we sow, we shall reap, and so shall our children.