Last Saturday, I led my first field-trip about Non-Violence, illustrated by the three portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. The assistance was composed of children- only boys for this one- between 6 years old and 9 years old, of different nationalities.
I was most impressed by the level of interest of these children. When I introduced each character I was asked the most sensible questions, and judging by the expression in their eyes I could see they were intrigued.
At one point, one boy interrupted me. I was explaining the actions of Gandhi once he came back in India, after his stay in South Africa, and this boy asked ‘But why?’. I enquired, ‘What do you mean by ‘why’?’. He went on, ‘But why is it that Indian people and white people are separated? Why do they have to live in different places?’. I reframed his concern, telling him that Gandhi was living 70 years ago, and thanks to his and many others’ fight India had evolved and there is more justice today, even though things are not perfect yet.
The next character was Martin Luther King, and similarly, I started with the city bus-boycott in Montgomery which followed Rosa Parks’ arrest. I explained the differences of treatment between blacks and whites in the Southern states of the USA. The same boy with interrogation in his eyes looked at me and said ‘But why? But why is it like that?’. And then he rolled his eyes and took his head between his hands exclaiming ‘This is crazy, this is completely crazy’. I looked at the other boys, and there was silence. I asked each of them ‘What do you think?’, and each of them replied ‘I agree’, revealing a clear understanding of the problematic at stake despite their young age.
In myself, I smiled with joy. This young audience expressed concerns for the lives of people who in somes cases did not have the same skin colour, and was wondering Why this was possible.
Isn’t it what we wish for our future generations? To hear them ask with astonishment and even awe, ‘Why is it that someone can be separated, bullied, even killed, based on his or her difference?’
If the children of now can understand that things can change and that progress is possible, then I know they will participate actively in building a more inclusive world, where not only blacks, Indians, whites are friends, but where rich, old, young, sick, rich, disabled, each contribute their gift to the planet.
I would love to hear your thoughts about this, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Caring for the Gifted Child