the midnight watchman
I have written many times about ideas of love and interactions with the people of our lives. I am beginning from a similar place although going in a different direction. another appropriate title for this post might have been “strangers”. regardless of affiliation the community you belong to has a profound impact on how we are raised and this in turn sets us into motion for how we will interact with the world. one of the first ideals that we strive to instill into children, partially because it is aided by their biological instincts, is trust. specifically who to trust and who not to trust. we are constantly telling children to not talk to strangers and definitely not to take things from them. we teach about authority figures and how children can ALWAYS trust them (which is always a good plan right up to the moment when it isn’t true).
as children continue to grow, social interaction and relationships are a big focus of education. teachers will notify parents if a child doesn’t interact with others well, a heavy focus on sharing, etc. this is important because relationships are the thing that defines our lives. sure there may be other accomplishments but the ones that really matter are the people in our lives that will always be there. because of the importance of this we teach from a conservative place. always concerned with safety and injury — either physical or emotional — because we don’t want them to have to experience our own pain or fears.
the peak of this educational strategy comes when we teach teens about romantic relationships. these are often the cause of most of our own pain so they receive the closest of instruction. the teaching often takes the form of “guard your heart”. don’t let anyone get too close unless you are sure they are worth it, or have earned it.
brief disclaimer, I am not saying we shouldn’t teach caution nor would I ever say that. my issue with this is that we have taught future generations to be closed, to hold tight to what they have so that they will never have less. the process of loving others, romantically or platonically is an action of pouring yourself out, making yourself vulnerable and showing those people that you value you them enough to risk yourself.
the scope of this is not limited to troubled or stifled social interactions in the future. it is a killer for creation. our culture is often lambasted for it’s consumerist or sheeple type ways. a cookie cutter culture if you will. the way to overcome this of course is to develop people who are creating art, creating music, leaving a mark in ways that I cannot define. however art and creation is an act of pouring oneself into something, often bigger then themselves. however the guards and walls we teach people to build around their hearts are killing art before it even has a chance to form.
art comes from pain, from tragedy, from hope and hopelessness alike. these are all states that we teach children and teenagers to avoid. we should be teaching the process of embracing these things, how to move forward when it feels like we have no more forward in us.
we need to embrace our own pain that has us teaching things like “guard your heart” so that we stop killing the capacity for great creations of others.