The Children's Fire

by Mark Thompson on May 15th, 2012

Many people agree that there is nothing more important or rewarding than one's children.  Watching my son grow has been the consummate experience of my life to date, and I've had a few experiences, I can tell you.

Susie and I decided when he was born that, regardless of education, what we wanted for him was confidence.  Both of us have suffered from a lack of this throughout our lives and it has taken us both a lot to overcome it.  At 8, Freddy is now shaping up to be a very impressive fellow, and we can't help but feel something has been done right.  Well done us.

Then I look around me and I worry for the future of all of our children.  Freddy is growing up, regardless of his confidence, in a world at a crossroads, in an unprecedented age.  We have never possessed such capability to shape and harness the world around us, and yet I feel at the same time we do so even as we are disconnected from it.  We look at our great mother as a resource to be manipulated to our own benefit, and only for now.

I am lucky to have a wonderful mentor.  We have an off/on formalised mentoring relationship, and see each other little, but I track what he and his organisation does from afar, and I go to Embercombe for my own development.  Mac talks about something he learned from his twenty years spent studying with the native peoples of North America.  He talks about the Children's Fire.

Those peoples never made important decisions without first lighting a fire and sitting around it.  This fire represented the lives of their children out to seven generations.  No decision was made without consideration of its ramifications not on the planet, or their resources, but to their own flesh and blood.  For seven generations.

Mac asks a question: what kind of society is it that does not have the Children's Fire at the centre of its institutions of power?  He never answers his question but the answer is implicit.

It's our society.

And I see this as I look at the education options for Freddy, or when I wonder what he will do with his life or what organsiation he might join.  The paradigm we have created for him is one of material success, or a mechanistic slavery to work and mort-gages (in French - death-pledge), social climbing and qualifications, that limit him to the success of his own life and what he can gain for himself.  The system he inherits from my generation is one that has not truly considered him, but only what it takes for him to succeed by our definition.  I can't help but feel sad for him.

I have placed the Children's Fire at the centre of courageouslife.  I hope that, along with confidence, I can also allow Freddy the space and the time as he grows to realise his full role on the earth, not just as an adolescent in a system that expects something of him.  I will expand his education to include, now, the ability to think forward, to play and experiment as an adult as much as he does as a child, and always with the thought that he, one day, will have a family.  I'd like the world they inherit to be safer, more free, and more considerate than the one I have helped create for Freddy.

Here's another good question: what kind of society would it be that had the Children's Fire at the centre of ALL of its institutions of power?  What, indeed.

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