Friday, November 10, 2006

We can't do it alone

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand.
- Emily Kimbrough, author and broadcaster (1899-1989)

This goes against almost every lesson that is taught (usually by example) to young people in western countries. Never admit you made a mistake, always find someone else to blame if necessary and never let them see you sweat.

These lessons, young people are led to believe, are what will serve them best when they are at the "top of the heap."

The trouble is, very few make it to the top. And of the few who do, almost none are happy. The vast majority suffer some form of confusion or alienation.

Then who is teaching these lessons? Oddly enough, parents are teaching them, either intentionally and consciously as lessons in life or unconsciously by discussions they have in family settings or by role modelling.

No one can succeed as an island, of course, which is why we have so many people with emotional and psychological problems, so many divorces, so few real friends, so many people who see therapists and so much confusion about how to cope with the ups and downs of life.

The lessons we teach to young people are the setup for the failure they see in their own parents and the failure they will have in their own lives.

We can't do it alone. We need to teach children how to find people they can trust. We need to help them to understand that they should ask for help when they need it. We need to help them to say "I don't understand."

We need to explain to them that they should find someone to help them when they are confused, troubled or when they know they are in need of something in their lives, before they strike off alone without the necessary coping skills and find themselves in trouble.

"Hand in hand" means not just that we are stronger together. It also means that we can share our collective wisdom, knowledge and skills, our creativity and resourcefulness and we can spread the burden of responsibility around among us.

Enough individuals will rise to the top that we don't need to worry about misleading them. At least we would have far more healthy people in the middle of the pack.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to grow healthier and wiser adults.
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