Bird Droppings May 23, 2010
Innocence is more than a definition
“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” the Dalai Lama, “Imagine All The People”
It has been a quite a few nights since my wife and I had a chance to go out together. I was thinking back to one evening as we sat down at our booth at a country restaurant, an elderly couple (older than me) carefully made their way to the adjacent booth. Both the husband and wife helped each other moving ever so slowly. After his wife had seated herself the husband went and fixed a plate at the buffet for her. When he returned to the table my wife happened to glance over and the woman was smiling as her husband came back to their table. My wife said “she looked like a child”, the child in her was coming out as she smiled.
Several years ago, for a class in human development, I developed a chart on the development of faith and trust. I had been reading a book by Dr. James Fowler professor and Director of Emory Candler School of Theology’s Ethic Center on the development of faith. It was interesting as I read and saw correlations of various concepts to other educational devlopmentalists such as Piaget, Erickson and even Freud.
“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” John Ruskin
When I read the passage from the Dalai Lama I was reminded of a stage I wrote about in my subsequent paper after research and reading Fowler’s book , the idea of learned trust. Children when they are born inherently trust and in my paper this is what I called it, a Universal trust. A baby instinctively trusts as it survives by literally instinct and in effect a trusting behavior, sucking reflexes only require milk to satisfy. A bitter taste and the baby would soon withdraw. The baby would learn to not suck. A simple example that as the child grows becomes more complex. Each new facet of life requires new information and understanding and soon a child learns trust. We go from an instinctual universal trust to a learned trust.
“Who would not rather trust and be deceived?” Eliza Cook
Quite a few Sunday night’s back, going on eight years now I delivered my youngest son to a local restaurant where the Early Learners were having their Christmas banquet. Our high school has a group of fifteen or so, four year olds, under the supervision of a lead teacher involved in teaching Early Childhood Education. Actually this is a technical class in our school, an experimental school in some ways a teaching school for high school students. Many of the little learners are children of teachers within our high school.
“You may be deceived if you trust too much, but you will live in torment if you don’t trust enough.” Frank Crane
It seems my son had been Santa Claus for two years for the little learners. Matt inherited my father’s Santa suit. Dad, for as long as I can remember, has been Santa for our family. I recall a night inModenaPa., Santa came through the fire escape window when I was four years old. This image is still vivid in my mind and many things are not as I get older. I check my driver’s license for name and address periodically. For one reason or another Matt had to wait, which meant sitting in the waiting area of the restaurant. Little children came through, some would hide behind their parents, and others would go up and sit beside him and or ask him questions. Each child was unique.
“No, I don’t understand my husband’s theory of relativity, but I know my husband, and I know he can be trusted.” Elsa Einstein
“Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
When Matt finally went into the Christmas party each child came up to him and I would take a photo. There was no questioning of whom this was, it was Santa. After all of the little learners came up, the teenagers, high school girls came and sat in Matt’s lap. Now I know why Matt did this each year. But within the context of these moments, trust was adamant. Children have learned to believe in, or not, Santa Claus, that is not an instinctual event.
“Woe to the man whose heart has not learned while young to hope, to love — and to put its trust in life.” Joseph Conrad
So often we take the innocence of children and convert it to the learned ways of adulthood, greed, envy and all the other influences of mankind are learned. But I have found in life’s journey that trust does begin to filter back as time and age goes on. Thinking back to dinner with my wife and how she noticed the elderly woman’s smile, sometimes is it the glint in an eye or a smile from an elderly person that shows the inner child is still there. Perhaps it is that untouched innocence and universal trust has returned, or maybe like me, you forget all else, that you have learned not to trust. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks.