I sat down to eat supper with my seventeen-year-old daughter tonight and she asked me, “what did you do to save the world today?”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t come up with anything of real substance to tell her. I did tell her about talking on the phone with several people who I tried to help them answer their questions respectfully and to try and bring some humor into their day as I talked with them. Nothing that seemed too earth saving to me.
She shared with me a story she had heard about a man who decided to commit suicide and before he did, he wrote a suicide note and stuck it in his pocket. He then left his house and began walking to the bridge he planned to jump from. On the way he passed many people, and then came to the bridge, and jumped, ending his life. His body was recovered from the river, and the rescuers found the note in his pocket. The note said “I plan to kill myself today, unless at least one person smiles at me”. Obviously, no one smiled at him, or if they did, he didn’t see it.
A good reminder from my daughter on the importance of acknowledging and smiling at the people who cross our paths. I am not sure if her story is true, but our newspapers are full of stories on people who likely didn’t get many smiles in their life’s, and unfortunately much of the neglect happens to them while they are children. Here are examples from today’s paper here and here.
So how is it we can ignore our children, and what are the consequences when we do? Robert Greenleaf’s version of leadership that he called servant leadership reminds us to always check the consequences of our actions with his best test “what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?” Our children definitely fit the least privileged category in our world today, and as I look around many of them are being deprived and harmed by the results of our leadership.
This is a good reminder for me to pay attention to the children in the world, and when I do, they have much they can teach me.