There is one place where the greatest life lessons thrive—the playground. It is here that the concepts to a peaceful society are abundant, threaded with the respect necessary to keep the environment peaceful and fun for everyone.
If you are on the swing and someone wants to get on it, he or she must count to 20. When the count gets to 18, you start dragging your feet in the sand. At 20, get off. Children understand that. It is not necessary to cheat someone out of a turn; greed will get you nowhere. If you feel like swinging later, just go and count to 20, and sure enough the swing will soon be yours.
If you prefer the slide, wait until whoever is before you makes it down. Impatience can lead to an accident and someone can get hurt. Even though it may not be you who is rudely bumped off the slide, the cries or tattling that may result are annoying. Follow the rules and you can avoid it.
If you are walking in the sand, be careful. Some children may have built sand castles. The time and effort put into bringing the water from the fountain to make little towers must be appreciated. Be conscientious and walk around the work of others. You would not like someone stepping on your hard work.
If little Susie wants to climb the jungle gym while little Johnny would rather build castles, it is fine. To each their own.
Among the plans of action that society often looks to when some social ill afflicts the world is the ever popular, “educate the children.” According to adults, the key to making Earth a more pleasant place to live lies in the hands of the young ones.
We forget that children can teach adults the greatest lessons in life. I am sure that when we were children, this plan of action was also mentioned. The responsibility to better the world keeps being passed on to the next generation.
Children are taught to deal with conflicts that some adults are yet to understand.
When drugs became a source of turmoil in society, education and promotion to lure children away from substance abuse and “Just Say No” became prominent.
When AIDS became a threatening epidemic, those concerned took to the schools to warn the young.
When the lives taken by violence increased, educators advocated safety and communication to curtail crime.
When the diversity in this nation became the source of intolerance, some children were taught to hate, while others were told to embrace the differences.
Adult society has taught the future generation many things, but it is the children who can teach the adults how to live.
It is not until these children are influenced by adult society that problems begin to arise. Soon, Susie is a “tomboy.” Johnny is a “sissy.” Tommy looks different, so no one plays with him. The child starts running in the sand and disregards the artwork of another. The slide becomes the territory of one whose purpose is to keep the pleasure away from everyone else. The child on the swing ignores the count of the other.
In teaching children, society must practice what it preaches to make mutual respect an ideal. It is possible.
We have all played on the playground before. We all knew and adhered to the unwritten rules of playground fun. When conflict arises, we, as adults, should take a walk to the playground and relearn the concepts that were so familiar and easy to practice at the time of childhood.
Maybe, it is necessary for some to sit on the swing, go down the slide or build a sand castle. Being a child, at least for a second, may spark the memory to the times when you knew how to cooperate with others. There is no name calling, arguing or fighting.
Maybe, we should let children run the world? Or at the very least, we should remember how easy it was to play with each other. We just need to use the same concepts to learn how to live with one another—in peace.
It worked then, why not now?