Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message continues 6/42
Article 1 - Article 2 - Article 3 - Article 4 - Article 5 - Article 6 - Article 7 - Article 8 - Article 9 - Article 10
Article 11 - Article 12 - Article 13 - Article 14 - Article 15
"As we grow up we learn to believe some things and not believe others. What we believe determines how we act. If our parents ignore us when we are children and we only experience bad things, we learn to believe the world is not a good place and we get angry and we do things that cause problems and get us into trouble. If we are well cared for and feel safe, we think the world is a good place, do good things, and we are happier. The world we see is really a mirror of what we believe about it. But, if we find somebody who is not happy and not doing well, it is best if we help them. Then they will help someone else who will help someone else. Then, the whole world becomes a better place." -the Author
MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL...
by Baryy Wolfer
Two mothers who had just given birth stood outside a glass wall in the hospital. Behind the glass, a nurse lifted their two brand new baby boys.
One, Todd, went home to a wonderful house. Relatives were there and each held him lovingly, caringly, with great joy. As Todd slowly grew, his parents showed him great affection, nurtured him daily, paid close attention to his needs for food and sleep. Although he was too young to express it, he always felt safe, secure, and cared for.
His parents watched his growing emotional needs. They saw that at times he needed help and closeness and at other times to be on his own and discover things by himself. They helped him develop his capacities to play in different ways, alone and with other children and to find out how to have fun with other kids. His relatives always noticed and complemented him on every new thing he conquered.
As he grew, his parents provide him with many different experiences, toys, and games that helped him learn. He became aware of what he could do and not yet do. His parents read to him; they encouraged him to talk and tell them what he thought; they asked him many questions that help him think. They treated him with great respect, as his own special person. He learned how to control himself, he felt confident to try new things, to take chances, to know that he could not always do them at first, but could learn if he patiently kept at it. He absorbed the feeling that his parents just naturally expected that he would be a wonderful boy who could do whatever he set his mind to. He had the sense that his life was an adventure in which there was something always bigger than him within which he lived and provided a sense of place and meaning.
The other child, Rob, went home to a confused, tormented situation. No one was there to greet him. His father was little interested in him. His mother did not often hold him. She fed him when she felt like it. She reluctantly got up in the middle of the night to change his diaper. His father just told him to shut up when he cried. He was left alone a lot, with few toys and games. His parents argued. His life was always unsettled and he never really had the sense of being safe and secure. He was antsy and uncomfortable. No one helped him learn to talk or cheered when he stood up or took his first steps. He was not encouraged to tell his parents what he thought; his feelings were not really important to them or anyone; no one read much to him; he was left in front of their TV hour and after hour to learn from that. He was not valued as his own person, but looked at as an object. Not much was expected of him, and he grew up with the sense that he could not really control much, that his destiny was not in his own hands but more a matter of fate. He encountered no warm sense that
there was anything that gave his life meaning and purpose.
When the boys started school, Todd was a wonderful student and fine athlete. His friends were creative, engaged kids exploring their world and having fun. On the other hand, Rob did not have much interest in learning or in playing the ordinary games of baseball, soccer, or basketball. He was confused by it all, did not see how it applied to him, and his friends were about the same.
Todd learned to read early, and well. His parents took him to museums, ballgames, held parties with friends. On the other hand, Rob was slow in school; his parents did not take him anywhere or encourage him to do anything.
While Todd and his friends were comfortable and safe in their worlds, Rob and his friends were not. In many ways they were angry that the world they saw out there and on TV was not the world they lived in. Inside, they felt cheated and desolate. The attention they got at home was hurtful. And because they did not do well at school, what attention they got there was the same. Although they could not explain what was happening, they started to create a world of their own, with its own meanings.
Because they did not fit in, they felt powerless. People treated them as misfits. Teachers were leery of them, storeowners looked down on them, people tended to avoid them. This all made it worse and drove them deeper into their own created worlds.
To get what they wanted and what they believed they could not get from society, they began to steal. At first they took little things, gum and candy, then bigger things. This helped them feel more powerful and it provided a distorted meaning to their lives.
They began to skip school. The police became suspicious. They were suspended, reinstated, and watched carefully. By now, they were labeled hoods, outcasts, and at-risk youth.
One year, Todd and Rob were in the same class. They hardly knew each other and never talked. The teacher had a list of everyoneís birthday and, in the morning, announced any that day. Everyone would then wish the birthday child a great day. On their day, Todd and Rob became aware they had the same birthday.
Todd approached Rob and said, "Hey, isnít it neat we have the same birthday?"
Rob who felt quite inferior to Todd but acted tough to cover up his insecurities answered, "Big flippiní deal."
Todd persisted and said, "I was born in Deerwood Hospital".
Rob, who just wanted out of the conversation, blurted back, "Yeah, me too.
When Todd got home, he told his mother that there was someone in his class who was born on the same day in Deerwood Hospital. His mother thought a bit and
remembered the woman she met at the glass wall that day. She was excited and
said, "Why donít you invite him over?"
Todd thought a minute and said, "I donít know mom, heís kinda different."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, he is just kind of a hood."
"What does he do?í
"He got suspended. The guys he hangs around with steal stuff."
"Oh, that is too bad. Maybe he needs some help."
"What do you mean?í
"Kids who do that do not feel good about themselves." Toddís mother recalled that the woman in the hospital looked drawn and worried and not that excited about her new son.
"Why donít they feel good about themselves?"
Toddís mother thought a minute and said, "Many reasons. Sometimes their parents do not really want them. Sometimes they are busy with too many other concerns. Sometimes they do not know how to take care of a child. And then the child does not grow up feeling good about himself."
"He seems like a smart kid, but he does not do well in school and never plays with us."
"Maybe you can help him."
"Just try to make friends with him. See what happens."
"OK, mom. Iíll try, but he doesnít seem very friendly."
The next day Todd approach Rob again and said, "Hey we have the same birthday, born in the same place, letís be friends."
Rob looked at him like he was nuts. Nonetheless, there was something in Rob that melted just a bit. This kid wanted to be friends? But all he could manage to say was, "Bug off, buddy."
"Come on, letís eat lunch together and talk about stuff."
By now, Rob was confused. Why is this guy asking ME to be friends? What does he really want? "Forget it, man. Get off it."
"Oh come on, Rob."
Rob mostly wanted him to get lost. But there was a part of him that didnít.
So, eventually he said, "OK, OK. If you want. Gees."
At lunch, Robís buddies saw him sitting with Todd and wondered what in the world was going on. What was he up to? Rob saw them staring at him and was quite uncomfortable.
Todd started to ask him what he liked to do. Rob looked a bit disgusted and said, "Not much. Hang out."
Todd told him about some of his after school activities and asked Rob if he would like to go along. Rob thought there is no way, looked defiant, then looked toward the floor, and sunk down in his seat. Finally, Todd asked him if he was interested in joining his Little League team. Tryouts and practices were going to start next week. Rob answered, "Hey man, I ainít even got a glove."
"Iíll loan you one of mine. Iíve got two. Why donít you come over after school and weíll practice a little. Come on."
"Gotta go to...." His voice trailed off so Todd could not hear him. Rob really had nowhere to go.
"How Ďbout tomorrow?"
Rob kind of secretly wanted to do this. Something inside him was excited.
But, he had been disappointed so many times. He told himself, "donít do this."
Todd said, "Tomorrow then."
Rob caved in, "OK. OK. Gees."
After school the next day, Rob walked home with Todd. He saw Toddís house and slumped. "What am I doing here?", he asked himself.
They went in, Todd got his gloves, and they started tossing a ball around.
Todd quickly realized Rob could hardly catch and throw. Todd was very patient with him and told him to keep his eye on the ball to catch it and to look just where he wanted to throw it. They got a bat and Todd pitched to him. Rob just swung wildly. Again, Todd told him to keep his eye on the ball and swing the bat level. Todd realized that Rob could not field a grounder. The ball would go right through his legs. Todd taught him how to bend from the knees and get the glove down. After a bit, Rob was doing better.
In succeeding days, their friendship grew a little. Todd found he sort of liked Rob. Rob, while he was still leery, felt something good inside that he had never felt before. He did not really think he could ever belong the way Todd did, but something felt good. Todd started talking to him about what they learned in school. Rob thought school was a total drag and didnít want to get into that stuff. But gradually, because he found something good in his budding friendship with Todd, he started to pay a little more attention to school.
Rob friends wondered. They could not figure this out. Rob started to talk to them about some of what he was discovering. His friends felt hopeless, that they could ever fit in. They werenít even interested. All they had ever encountered in their families and neighborhoods was pain and disappointment. But, when Rob started to pay a little more attention in school, he started to realize that, in return, his teachers and everyone else at the school acted better toward him. He told this to his friends, encouraged them when they were skeptical, and they started to pay a little more attention. When they went home, they still had problems and were not supported in any newfound interests, but they slowly realized that they could pay more attention in school and do a little better anyway. They could start to see the barest glimmer of hope for their future where before, they saw virtually none.
Rob got to meet Toddís parents. At first, he did not know what to do and was embarrassed. But, Toddís parents seemed to like him, in a way that even surprised Todd. There was an attraction, some kind of bonding. Todd felt it was because of his same birth date. His parents asked Rob questions, learned not to ask certain things, but found ways to bolster him. Rob started looking at Toddís house as a kind a refuge, a home away from home. He was still scared, but something was working. Something felt good. Toddís parents welcomed him fully, were drawn to him, and continued to encourage Todd to be his friend.
Then, Todd started to bring Rob into his circle of friends. Some of them rejected him. But Todd was seeing that he was having a good effect on Rob. They were having fun. Rob was changing in many ways. And remarkably, Rob was also having a good effect on his friends.
When Todd talked about all this to his parents, his father said, "Son, when you reach out in friendship to somebody, something good happens. When you see somebody who can use a little help, if you help them, the world becomes a better place. You know there are a great many unhappy people with many problems. We tend to judge people and write them off if they arenít just like us. But that just divides everybody, makes them mad, and causes problems. If we all care about and help each other, nobody gets mad and we all become happier. What you are doing with Rob is helping you both grow into better people. I am very proud of you."
One day, Todd learned about genetics in class. The teacher was quite insistent that our genes determined everything about us. After class, Rob told Todd that he thought he must have really bad genes. That was why he had so many problems. Todd did not know what to say.
At dinner, Todd told his parents what he had learned and asked if Rob had more problems because his genes were not good. Toddís mother answered, "Genes for
sure determine what we looked like, the color of our eyes, the color of our hair, whether it is straight or curly, how tall we are, all of that. But, a whole lot of the way we are and how happy we are is determined by how we grow up, our experiences in our families, schools, and neighborhoods."
His father added, "As we grow up we learn to believe some things and not believe others. What we believe determines how we act. If our parents ignore us when we are children and we only experience bad things, we learn to believe the world is not a good place and we get angry and we do things that cause problems and get us into trouble. If we are well cared for and feel safe, we think the world is a good place, do good things, and we are happier. The world we see is really a mirror of what we believe about it. But, if we find somebody who is not happy and not doing well, it is best if we help them. Then they will help someone else who will help someone else. Then, the whole world becomes a better place."
Todd told Rob what he had learned about genes and other effects on how we were and that it is not all genes. Rob only half believed him. But, Todd and Rob continued to hang out, Rob continued to do better, and he became increasingly hopeful. Also, Robís friends did increasingly better. They were no longer interested in stealing. They saw that, just maybe, if they tried hard they could learn and build good lives for themselves. Rob talked to them about not being brought down by their families. Rob was becoming a leader.
Todd, seeing what was going on, began to realize how, because he tried to be friends with Rob, who everybody thought was a hopeless hood, from that one good thing a lot of peopleís lives were being affected. Toddís friends began to see this too. Toddís mother saw it, and her eyes filled with tears. She told her son over and over how terrific he was. Todd told Rob how terrific he was. And Rob began to tell his friends how terrific they could be.
One day, some older biology students were doing a class project that involved determining peopleís blood types. They had learned that there were four blood groups, something called an Rh factor, somebodyís blood type was inherited from their parents, and there was a way to figure out what type somebodyís blood type was. Under the supervision of the biology teacher, they asked for volunteers. Todd and Rob volunteered and watched what the older students did.
When Todd got home, he told his mother about the blood typing. Interested, she asked what his was. When he told her, she looked a little strange. After all, she knew her blood type and Toddís fatherís. She figured they probably got it wrong. Then, Todd told her Robís blood type.
In a moment, Toddís mother seemed to freeze. Then, she turned ashen. She managed to mumble something to Todd, went to her bedroom, sat down, and was dumbstruck by the implications. Somehow, she managed to hold herself together until
Toddís father got home. In tears, she told him all she knew and what she thought might be true. Toddís father sat down, bent over, and held his head in his hands. "Oh, my God. Oh, my God."
For days, they talked about what to do. Should they do anything?
As they debated and debated, they realized what had been happening between Todd and Rob. And they saw with a clarity they could never have imagined before how incredibly important it is to nurture every child with total love, and what a difference it makes. They also began to realize in a new way that, only when parents learn to love everyone, every child as their own, would the world be a better place. They realized that, no matter what they decided to do, or not do in the situation they now found themselves, a parentís own child is really a child of God, whatever in the end has made all of us. That had to be the true Parent of us all, and human parents were really just important caretakers of childrenís lives who had been entrusted to them.
As a feeling that their love should also actually extend to all the children on earth welled up in them, Toddís parents realized as well that, in his own way, Todd had remarkably learned how every other child is his brother or sister.
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