As I walked home on a cool fall evening in NYC last night, I noticed an increased amount of police activity down 2nd Avenue. I then realized it was for the UN General Assembly, essentially a meeting of world leaders to discuss all the problems and issues that we as humans today are facing.
Not only was this happening in Midtown, but Downtown Manhattan was just recovering from a day of protests during the Flood Wall Street climate march. All of this intensity in NYC surrounding world issues got me into some serious thinking on my nearly 50-block walk home.
While I have no problem with people getting excited and impassioned about issues they care about and fighting for change, I think that most of the issues we face today are things that require action much deeper and stronger than a protest or a campaign.
These are problems that are ingrained in the structure and fibers of modern society. These are problems that have manifested over decades from generation to generation, like a snowball effect, with one problem leading to, or adding to, the next.
I often have to fight my own pessimism, as I convince myself that our problems have become too great to overcome, and that the world may have reached a point of no return.
That we as humans have gotten so deeply entwined in our issues that there may be no solutions capable enough to resolve them.
When I reach this despondent point of view, I try to remember a quote by Mother Teresa, “The way you help heal the world is you start with your own family.”
While all of our protests and action-plans may help to better our world, if we really want to change our planet for the better, we must teach our children the values and ideals that will do so.
This is the only way to truly change our world. Like evolution itself, change takes time -- generations -- to really have an effect. We need to shape the future of this planet by shaping our children.
So while I commend all of you people who are “fighting the good fight,” I think it is far more important that as a society we remind and educate all parents that if we want the world our children will inherit to be better than the one we live in today, it starts at home.
These are just some, but what I believe to be the most important, lessons that all parents need to teach their children to create a better world:
If you want to change the world, teach your children to treat others the way they would want to be treated, really.
This lesson is self-explanatory, and one of the first major lessons that all parents should teach their children.
If children can learn empathy and respect for one another at an early age, the world will turn out to be a much better place. Period.
If you want to change the world, teach children to respect the environment and nature.
This goes beyond just teaching your children that “littering is wrong.” Show your children the beauty of nature, take them outside, let them see the value of our environment.
When they are old enough, teach them how renewable energy sources can improve the earth and that we should keep our oceans clean. Learning these things at an early age will give them the foundation not only to appreciate our world, but to fight for its well being.
If you want to change the world, teach children to stand up for others.
Teach your children to stand up for those who might not be able to stand up for themselves. Suggest that they invite the kid sitting alone at lunch to join their table. Tell them how proud you would be of them for standing up for the kid getting picked on by the class bully.
Show them that helping others is important. Yes, we may be taught this by our schools or religious organizations, but coming from an honest conversation with mom and dad will mean much more.
If you want to change the world, teach your children to be fair.
Fairness and honesty are two of the fundamental qualities that parents need to instill in their children. Whether they grow up to become a cashier or a CEO, being fair will inherently make them better at what they do and will help them go further in life.
If we raise a generation of children who truly believe in honesty and fairness, we have the potential to create a world in which things like political scandals and business fraud cease to exist.
If you want to change the world, teach your children to be tolerant.
One of the most important lessons to teach, especially in a world that's becoming more culturally intertwined day by day, it is so important that we teach our children to be tolerant and to respect all races, genders and ethnicities. Racism isn’t born, it’s learned.
If you want to change the world, teach your children that actions have consequences.
Teach your children to be responsible… that being alive is a privilege and that we should live with purpose and conviction.
Teach them that the things we do, however small or large, have a direct relation to not only our own lives and relationships but to the greater world that we are a part of.
If you want to change the world, teach your children to value their education.
When your child enters school, make them excited, and get excited with them. Engage them in what they are learning, ask questions and participate in discussions. If they complain about school, sit them down and show them children in developing countries that risk their lives to get to school.
Do not simply accept that they do not like school or learning, have them get extra help at school or tutoring. Do not give up on pushing your child to learn, as this is what will make them successful adults, and ultimately push humanity to progress forward.
If you want to change the world, teach your children what it means to be good and why it is so important.
This might seem trivial at first, but it is so important to teach your children what it means to be a good person. Whether your perception on what “good” is stems from your own upbringing, religious beliefs or something different entirely, it shouldn’t be very hard to figure out.
Not only should you teach your children what these principles are, but also why it is so important that they emulate them in their own lives.
Whether you believe in heaven and hell, yin and yang or dark and light, there is an undeniable opposition in this world between good and evil. If we want this world to be good, we must teach our children how and why.
If you want to change the world… BE A PARENT.
Probably the easiest, and yet hardest job there is… being a parent. This means so many things, but ultimately it means taking this job seriously. You don’t need to have a license or pass a test to have a child, although you really should have to.
Bringing a child into this world does not stop in the delivery room, it requires hard work, dedication and stepping up to the plate.
We must begin to think of having a child as consenting to be a key player in the future of our world. If you cannot take this job seriously, and provide your children the love, support and direction that they deserve, do the world a favor and put on a damn condom.
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