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5.21.2018

Am I Wrong For Expecting Greatness from My Kids?

My husband and I have always believed that it is important that we allow our children the freedom to just be. To observe their environment and to be inspired by it. To live as free as they can even when the world tries to constantly confine them to a box. And even while failing, falling, living, laughing,  I still expect them to put their best foot forward. I still expect greatness. And  I don't think it's wrong.

My mother would say to me when I was younger, "whatever job you do, even if you are a janitor, always do your best." Perhaps this is what comes to mind when I think of "greatness". Success is putting your mind to do something, seeing it through and being able to reach your goals. Everyone measures success differently. But for some reason, I think most people measure success in monetary value or job titles. So in the greater scheme of things, if you have not attained wealth in one of these areas, then you are not successful. This is why the comment, I expect greatness from my kids, can sound a little overbearing and superficial.

I've seen "Tiger Moms" enforce, not encourage rules of what success is. Being the best at "certain" instruments, or being the top of their class, or going to the best schools, because these things ensure a successful life. All this encourages is there's a best and a worst. There is a rich and a poor. This encourages further segregation and division in a world that so desperately needs to unite.

The greatness I expect is not exactly how the world defines it. I want my children to play an instrument, but the one that they have an interest in. The world deserves a mixture of beautiful sounds. I want my kids to understand what they learn in school, not just memorize to pass test. Some kids don't love school because they are not learning, they are being taught to look like they are learning. I want my sons to go to the schools that will teach them how to be the best they can be at what they choose to do, while being themselves. The success I expect comes from within. We are all a piece of the puzzle and our contribution brings us together as a whole.

Once on Facebook, a friend posted a quote by the Dali Lama (which since then, I've seen floating around all over social media).

" The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kind." 
When I saw this, I was a bit heated by it.  First, the person who posted this, which is really more of an acquaintance, a friend of a friend, is in a corporate position who has eagerly posted her own accomplishments and promotions within her job, so I found it odd, that she would post this. As to say, everyone who want success only wants a superficial life. It reminds me of how some use religion to keep others oppressed, do as I say not as I do. Second, the Dali Lama didn't even say this. I thought, why would he say this. These words are not inspiring but more critical and judgmental. Third, I thought, why can't peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kind be successful? Isn't that the hope? Don't we want them to succeed?


The quote actually comes from the book, Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World, by David Orr. The full quote is:

"The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lover of all kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it."
Is it just me or does this make more sense within it's context? In fact, reading this inspires me more than the partial quote being spread as though the Dali Lama said it. The world does not need more people to climb the corporate ladder. The world does not need more people to ignore the rest of the world while their circles become tighter and smaller. The world does not need more people who just go through the motions, like swimming laps in a pool, just going back and forth but never really getting anywhere, just showing off that they know how to swim, or win. We need more people, to jump into the ocean of life and ride the waves that will take them to unique and interesting places where they can spread their knowledge, their peace, and their joy. This is the greatness I expect from my children and I don't think I am wrong for it.

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