The Genesis of Hope

Posted: January 17, 2022 in Uncategorized

The Genesis of Hope

The genesis of hope lies in the evolution of human relations and not in the achievement of success.

Despite the nearing end of the sixth extinction. Despite the looming polluted planet we call home. Despite the procrastination of monetarism, greed, power obsessed. Despite the uninformed individualized approach to what it means to be human a woman living in the slum area of a large city can still respond when asked by a news reporter what hope she has, living as she must. She can still point to her children and say: “They are my hope,” (Alves (adapted) 2011)

Kahlil Gibran reminds us of our participation in the evolutionary process of the species  when he says: “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday

Born in love is an ideal, born to create the world they are born into the child is both responsible to itself and to its parents from the very beginning and the involvement of parent is primarily to ensure its neurological development is supported and not hindered. This is as both the mother and Gibran suggest crucial for the continuation of the human species.

To put this another way is to say that: a child explores the world with true wonder long before he or she understands what the adults mean by ‘holy’. That child does not need to be told in solemn pious tones ‘only God can make a tree’ before discovering the God-given thrill of climbing it, feeling its rough bark against his or her hands and face, sensing the joy of a new experience. Out of such experiences in the life of a child comes a quickened sense of self-worth, which has important ramifications for all relationships with other persons. This might suggest that the right hemisphere of the child’s brain is awakening before language; maybe even before other senses and that an innate sense of what it means to be human is already present. The imagination is already birthing perhaps. This makes what we do and say as parents is vital for the future of the human race. It also says that the bonding we talk about with child and mother is akin to the bonding between father and child because here is implanted the sense of what love is as opposed to fear, what love is as opposed to what many experience as trauma from the very first breath of life.

To try to put this into a faith journey context we might ask is this perhaps why the peasant sage called Jesus/Yeshu’a was also so affirming of children.

As you read or hear this and in the spirit of this celebration of children, I invite you to come on a journey of re-imagination. The biblical stories of creation and yes there are several, are not literal because they are already imagination driven stories, already shaped by the culture into which they are spoken or read. They are not mythical stories of the creation of the world, but rather mythical stories of the creation of humanity and thus children. I don’t know enough about education but I do think that we do our children a disservice when we impose what we think or believe upon them in ways that ignore, suppress and discredit what they already know about being human. We assume that the cognitive understanding or the left hemisphere is the only important part of being human and we distort their lives. Note I am not saying that many teachers don’t know what they are doing for most do and most are wonderful brilliant educators. What I am saying it that the environment, or the culture or the human systems we have developed can distort the purpose because they are measured within a dominating left hemisphere functioning world.

In a beginning… At the start of every life, an environment must be created favourable to life and not just knowledge or achievement, or success. Otherwise a child’s surroundings would have no form or shape and would be empty and unoccupied. We are adults must be responsible with what we have learned about the frailty of the human species to prepare it for a living child. And God said: ‘Let there be light…’ All through their life, children will be faced with a mixture of light and darkness. The child comes from the darkness of the mother’s body into the world where the light hurts its eyes. But light is good for the baby and all children must have lots of it all their life. Adults must see to it that the lights are turned on so the child’s life will not be lived in the shadows of a darkened world.

And God said: ‘Let there be a dome…’A child must have support when born,
not because they don’t know but because they have yet to know the complexity of applying what they know by instinct, just as the planets must be supported in the sky. And even though a child’s prenatal experience in the mother is a water event, the actual birth sets the child upon the solid earth. They have experienced the sharpness of evolution and this earth, its water and its atmosphere will be the child’s home as long as the child lives. And here is the greatest traumatic event. It is here, on earth, that the child must learn to live just as other forms of life live on the earth and in the sea. Because this earth is the only one we have.

And God said: ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation…’ It is important a child be provided with a total environment favourable to healthy development. This means green grass, plants, trees, and all kinds of fruit, for healthy nourishment. A child’s life cannot mature properly where the world of rivers, lakes and bush lands have all been changed into asphalt and brick, polluted streams and poisoned foods. A total environment must be given every child with nature’s surroundings at their finest and best. Not because it is nice and sensible but because it is crucial for the species. And God said: ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures…  Here again within the reality of evolution every child needs to know animals, what their kind is, and put a name on each, as though each were a person. And from this the child will have a ‘reverence for life’ – life of all kinds for this is a part of the world of nature and part of their own nature. Here we have the most important learning for adults today. It is that we need to relearn so we can teach that the reverence for life makes no distinction between more precious and less precious lives.

And God said: ‘Let us make humankind in our image… A person is not ‘made’ all at once but is ‘grown’ from a baby. Each child is born with a creative potential which becomes known as the child develops talents and abilities to apply what they already know. And while this earth and everything in it is the child’s domain, each child must see to it that the balance of nature is maintained; food is provided for all earth’s people, and life be made better for all living creatures.

As adults we must see to it that all children are given this birthright and this heritage – to be able to live life fully, and to develop their capabilities to the fullest, ever mindful of the responsibilities, since we all walk this earth – its future and the future of God is in our hands.

We have evidence now that the early stages of life are seldom entirely outgrown. Rather, they become the platforms on which further stages of development are built. The challenge is that they seem to need to be supplemented by overlays of new levels of information that will shape the patterns of life. And that we today as adults are involved in work that is more important than we thought. The task for us is to count it a privilege to walk with our children and grandchildren,
our nieces and nephews. Sure we can offer to shape their beliefs but never as absolute truth because we know that our beliefs will also be reshaped by them. As Gibran reminds us “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you…” (Gibran 1926/1969:20)

The wise among us call that wisdom. And let us enable our children to wonder… “out of the mouths of babes”. “We are collections of long-nurtured solutions that have worked. It took a long time and a lot of editing to make every one of our molecules. As offspring of such a long streak of inspiring successes, let’s allow ourselves and our children and grandchildren to live as humans.

Rex Hunt tells of a poem he found in 2005. It is called: “A Short But True Story of You”. And I have adapted it slightly to make it a daily prayer to a child.

You are made of star-stuff.
You are related to every other living thing on Earth.

You breathe out a gas that gives life to plants,
and plants breathe out a gas that gives life to you.

You are part of a wonderful web of life on a planet spinning in space.
When you die, someday, the elements of your body
will become a part of clouds and crystals,
seas and new living things.

You can think and wonder, love and learn.
You have the gift of life. 

Let you and I remember all children and commit ourselves to
their growth and safety,
their health and education,
their uniqueness and
their unfolding beauty.

Amen.

Notes:
Alves, R. Tomorrow’s Child: Imagination, Creativity, and the Rebirth of Culture. Eugene. Wipf & Stock, 2011.
Anderson, L. & C. Brotman. Kid’s Book of Awesome Stuff. Biddeford. Brotman Marsh-Field Curriculums, 2004.
Fleischman, P. R. Wonder: When and Why the World Appears Radiant. Amherst. Small Batch Books, 2013.
Gibran, K. The Prophet. London. Heinemann, 1926/1969. 

rexae74@gmail.com

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