I’m in that weird mid-twenties stage where I look and act like an adult, but on the inside I’m still trying to figure out what that means. Watching my friends encounter new experiences in their twenties really hits home. A friend being diagnosed with cancer, a friend starting a family, a friend surviving an armed robbery, a friend surviving a divorce…. The list continues with experiences that make all of the “life” things that I’ve heard about suddenly seem very real. With every life experience I have, story I read and opinion I encounter, I’m constantly trying to form a framework for my perception, beliefs and actions. As a kid, my framework was “good” and “bad”, but it didn’t take long to realize that doesn’t work in the adult world. After much deliberation, my new framework is “healing” and “destructive”. “Healing” is different from “good” because it implies a continuous process, not a one-time declaration of value. “Healing” also makes room for inescapable things like “sadness” and “suffering” that are outside the simple definitions of “good” and “bad”. The idea of healing acknowledges that the world is made of relationships and that people and situations are capable of change.
As I seek to understand this framework for myself, I think about what I would want to convey and teach to the kids I interact with every day. I consider this audience first because kids are the most malleable and are especially sensitive to what adults teach through their actions. I wanted to make a list, a list that can grow through the contributions of others; a list that I can use to set goals for the activities I plan for the kids I work with; a list that I can read often and use to reflect on my own behavior. Here’s the list. Please add to it!
Things that are healing
- Seeking to understand
- Encouraging words
- Meaningful words, actions, purpose
- Treating others like you want to be treated
Things that are destructive
- Judging others
- Attitudes of “us” and “them”
- Thinking of yourself or others as anything more or less than human
- Letting fear cloud your decision making
What would you add to these two lists?