child-centered societies

so over the past few months, i’ve come to the realization that child-centeredness is a critical characteristic of the world(s) i want to build.

i’m honestly not sure how it took me so long to come to this conclusion… especially given my own life story:

  1. having grown up in churches that were anti-child… or at the very least neutral towards children (this made me realize what not to build more of).
  2. my own leadership and spiritual development through christian youth group spaces.
  3. my work with young people between the ages of 18 and 24.
  4. my experiences mentoring people, particularly (but not exclusively) young people.
  5. a love of children of all ages
  6. an increasingly child-filled life as my friends have kids.

but all that aside: why is it so clear to me that this matters? because CHILDREN ARE THE FUTURE… literally, metaphorically, and in all the ways.

i think it’s yuval harari who talks about how important the period of life is where children are helpless and fully taken care of by adults in their lives. it seems weak and feeble (compared to animals like horses who can run within hours of birth (right?)), but it’s actually a huge evolutionary boon. this stretch of child development allows each new child and each new generation to just observe for a year or more.

people act so surprised these days when babies hit age two and already know that cell phones are important and how to use them. but after they’ve watched their parents spend so much attention on them every day, it’s actually pretty obvious how they know: they learn it from us. but i digress…

this time to observe and acclimate to the world as it is now and as it will be is why it’s so important to develop child-centered societies. they are the only ones who have intuitive ability to make sense of the world they’re growing up in. and they’re the ones who will know how to address the challenges of their day. the rest of us are just backfilling.

and, imo, that’s totally fine! it’s the role of older folks to do what we can to hold the space for the young ones to assess their (our) world, diagnose the challenges, and then work towards visionary, imaginative solutions. and then create the same space they had for their young ones.

it’s just that simple. and that complex. (which is a good sign, imo).

now, how to incorporate this thinking into my vision statement and my definiteion of liberation… another day methinks!

ps - none of this thinking is new; i’m sure i’m cobbling together lots of other people’s thinking, including bell hooks and paolo freire, just without citation because i can’t think of it right now. as i write more about this stuff, i’ll hopefully get clearer about specific sources. if you have them, feel free to lmk! pps - thanks to casper and renee for poking me to write about this. it’s v informal, but more detail/clarity will come later i’m sure.

words / writing / post-processing
338w / 13min / 6min