The Problem With Equality

It is true that we are all created equal in that we have the same amount of time each day.  But we are not all equal, nor should we be.  I prefer to embrace individuality and try to appreciate each person for who they are and what their special talents are.

If we were to make everyone equal then we have no opportunity for excellence.  How sad would this

If we were all equal we would all be able to do this!

If we were all equal we would all be able paint like this!

world be if Michelangelo had never painted the Sistine Chapel or Alexander Bell never tried to talk to someone in another building?  Yet we deprive our children of the excitement of competition by not keeping score at Little League games so that the loser’s feelings aren’t hurt.  I have seen leagues where all the kids get trophies at the end of the season.  This not only makes the ones that didn’t win feel worse, but it robs the ones that did win of any sense of accomplishment or pride.  It also teaches our youth that both winning and losing are bad!  In reality, both are necessities and learning how to win, how to lose and how to utilize the lessons from the experience are vital to becoming a successful adult.

Another place where “equality” is misappropriated is our school system.  I became aware some years ago that when the elementary school kids bring their pencils, erasers, glue, crayons and other items that they picked out special for themselves to school they are instructed to put them all in a communal pot.  After all, we don’t want those who can’t afford Crayola scented markers to feel bad because they have the Dollar-Tree brand!  But we are really teaching the kids that they don’t own anything, they don’t have the right to keep what they work for and that financial success is evil.  Is this really what we want our kids to learn?

I submit to you that equality is a relative term.  We are all human.  We all have the right to follow our own path, reap our own rewards, revel in our successes and learn from our mishaps (okay, failures if you insist on using that word).  The motivational speakers will say that failure is the stepping stone to success.  I say it is a learning experience and a necessity for success.  If you never failed at anything you never left your comfort zone…and you are cheating yourself out of a vital and exciting life!  Let’s try to instill in our children…the future generation…the love of life and the ability to embrace our differences.  After all, it is those differences that have propelled us to where we are today.  So instead of all being equal, why don’t we all strive to achieve our individual best in whatever we do?  How great would that be?

Raising Children To Be Independent Thinkers

Will your child be the next great thinker?

Will your child be the next great thinker?

I raised my kids to think like free people. This makes an already difficult task of parenting even harder!  But the rewards are immeasurable.

If we are to have a future for humanity we must teach our children to think, to question, to explore and to rationalize…not to blindly except what is fed to them.  The beginning of this is teaching how to negotiate (and what is non-negotiable).  There are limits, of course.  And applying those restrictions simultaneously to instilling the love of freedom is not easy!  But it comes from balance between freedom and responsibility.  It gives our youth the tools they need to assess situations and make educated decisions all through life.

When I was a child I was told repeatedly by my mother, “Because I said so, that’s why!”  It infuriated me because all I wanted was the logic (and sometimes to get my way!) behind what she was saying I had to do or couldn’t do.  I was an inquisitive child and my children were as well.  I swore that I would never, NEVER say use that dreadful phrase with them…and I can only recall one instance where it slipped out of my lips, followed immediately by the thought, “Oh, my God, I am becoming my Mother!”  And it never happened again.  I am not saying that I didn’t make mistakes, we all do.  But my kids have grown up to be pretty awesome adults so I guess some things actually went as planned.

But the purpose of this post is not so much to talk about my kids as it is to inspire others to take into consideration how they interact with their own.  The mantra that children should be seen and not heard is counterproductive for a thriving society.  Talking to toddlers in baby-talk teaches them to speak baby talk.  Talking to them as if they were adults gives them a higher goal to strive for…after all, we learn by imitating what we are exposed to.  As they get older, do you let them make their own decisions about what to wear?  Do you negotiate about dinner items that may not be favorites?  Do you encourage trying things that are outside of the comfort zone?  Do you teach them that it is OK to win and it is also OK to lose?  To never allow failure is doing children a disservice.  They will not be able to cope with the inevitable setbacks in adult life and will have a stressful life as a result.  If success is discouraged (ever been to a little league game where they don’t keep score?) then we are robbing the kids of their sense of pride and self worth, plus we are not teaching them how to win gracefully.

These are all skills that are vital to success in life.  Negotiation is vital for getting jobs, buying necessities and maintaining relationships.  If you don’t know how to negotiate then you are reduced to arguments where no one wins.  Critical thinking skills are essential as well, for obvious reasons.  Suppose that Patrick Henry, George Washington, Galileo, Socrates, Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein had never questioned anything?  Where would we be today?  Will your child be the next great thinker?  Not if you don’t encourage free thought!