Mark 10:15 "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."
Hither, dear child - Hugh Mackay
- Remember kindergarten and the early years of primary school? For most of us, it was a time of mingled joy and wonderment, occasional tears and lots of singing. We painted, we danced, we listened attentively. Every day, we learned amazing things about the world and ourselves. We were eager for life, and there wasn't a single drop of cynicism in our veins. So . . . what went wrong?
- At some point on the journey from childhood to adulthood most of us begin to take ourselves too seriously. We became self-conscious and in the process, stifle our spontaneity, our creativity and our imagination. The mechanism that previously filtered our cant and bombast stops working, and we begin behaving in ways - sometimes called "grown-up" - that any child would recognise as silly.
- Perhaps we never fully dismantle the defences we erect against the temporary embarrassment of becoming sexually mature; perhaps we are permanently calloused by our adolescent need to appear cool.
- Whatever, the cause, the effect is plain to see. Thinking of ourselves as adults, we start trying to appear rational and sensible, even when that is unrealistic or inappropriate (as it often is). We stop reciting poetry, let alone creating it; we no longer paint, dance and sing; we put away the musical instruments we once played.
- It is a melancholy fact that many of us let our creative juices dry up almost from the moment we leave school: having been freed from the discipline of regular practice, we carelessly forego its therapeutic benefits.
- Growing up too quickly - or even pretending to - is a health hazard. How ironic, therefore, that while most of us claim to want freedom and innocence for our children, we act as though we are powerless to protect them from premature exposure to adult media content, and we impose on them the pressure of our own crazy schedules. Then we complain that their childhood is being taken away from them, as if we don't realise what we were doing.
- If you want to see an example of the damage caused by too great a loss of innocence, watch the solemn posturing of politicians. Many of them act as if signs of human frailty must be concealed and mistakes never admitted.
- I was wrong? Call the spin doctor! How can I turn this to may advantage? Can I pretend I didn't say it? No? Then I'd better explain that I didn't mean what I said.
- Such shenanigans wouldn't survive a moment's clear-eyed scrutiny in any primary-school playground. That kind of dissembling would be laughed to scorn. Kids aren't as silly as that - even though they often tell transparent lies - because their innocence protects them from hypocrisy.
- People who don't feel free to make mistakes, and can't admit to having made them, risk losing both their integrity and their humanity. We lesser mortals find it hard to relate to people who conceal their true feelings in their determination always to look good and sound smart. It's hard to love someone who tries to perpetuate the fiction that they are never wrong.
- Can't we lighten up? Can't we unbend? (Can't we learn from our childhood?) When was maturity ever meant to coincide with perfection . . . and when was the idea of perfection ever anything other that a mirage to seduce the insecure?
- Whenever I hear people telling each other to grow up, I want to rush in with precisely the opposite advice. Don't grow up! Especially not if it means you will lose your openness to new ideas, or that you'll become pompous, world-weary, cynical or inhibited.
- The world needs sensible and responsible adults, of course. Dignity and decorum have their proper place, but they need to be leavened by the lightheartedness that comes naturally to children.
- Children know when to laugh at themselves (and at us), and when to cry. They know when a reasssuring touch will be more effective than a windy speech. If they feel like singing, they sing.
- We can't recapture their carefree innocence, but there are some adult versions of it that are perfectly compatible with maturity. You can glimpse a kind of innocence in the ingenuousness and vulnerability of great artists, great thinkers, great teachers . . . and even in the unconditional loyalty of great friends.
- Self-righteousness and pomposity are the enemies of such innocence because they blind us to the truth about ourselves. Perhaps that's why we can't help smiling when we hear someone singing in the shower, or whistling unselfconsciously in the street; they sound as if they've shaken off the inhibitions that often feel like the curse of adulthood.
- cant - insincere statements
- bombas - high sounding, insincere words/extravagant language
- shenanigans - nonsense, trickery
- dissembling - speaking/acting hypocritically or falsely
- decorum - polite, proper behaviour/manner
- leavened - balanced, softened
- ingenuousness - free from reserve/restraint, frankness