Six year old Eevie was in the kitchen yesterday and she was eating the pancakes we had made (four year old Damon and I). She really was enjoying them but when she was finished, she jumped up from the little Dr. Seuss Table we have in the kitchen for the little kids to eat on, and was about to go run and play.
“HOLD ON” said my husband (B.), “I think it would be nice if you would take your plate to the sink for Lissy”.
Eevie stood still for a minute and then thoughtfully walked back to her plate, and as she was putting it in the sink, she said “Well B., in my school, the servants pick up the plates for us and put them in the kitchen”.
I took this moment to jump in and say “Eevie, the people who help serve and clean up the food at your school are called servers, not servants and there is a big difference between them. The servers are like people who have a job and they WANT to do that job because they earn money for doing it and because they like helping kids, but a SERVANT is someone who does not have a choice and they are forced to do what they are doing, like the people in the boat being held by the British when The Star Spangled Banner was written”.
Eevie loves that You Tube Video about “the star spangled banner as you’ve never heard it” that tells the story of Francis Scott Key and the star spangled banner, including the part where the men being held in the ships, were prisoners or slaves. of the British. So she understood about how those men did not want to be trapped.
This conversation made me think about children and their beliefs. Growing up, my dad wanted us to believe that we could do anything if we tried hard enough, and he was a dad to five girls. But he never thought that we were “limited” or “less important” or “less valued” because we were girls instead of boys. I remember before there was a girls track team, my dad encouraged my sister to run “with the boys”, and she did. He felt like girls sports were as important as boys sports, and good sportsmanship was a skill girls needed to learn as much as boys.
Because she “BELIEVED” she could do it, she started finding ways for making it happen, where as, if she had NOT believed she could do something, she would not have been looking for windows of opportunity.
What we believe is possible, is critical in preventing a “victim” mentality.
I know that there are studies proving that when a deterrent is consistently a consequence of an activity, it can cause that activity to become extinct or to cease. It would seem that a multitude of deterrents can lead a person to feel like a victim. In the study I am thinking about, if a monkey got shocked every time it climbed up a ladder to get bananas, it would stop using the ladder, even after the ladder was not shocking any more. And not only that, it would prevent future baby monkeys from climbing the ladder. The climbing the ladder behavior could become extinct.
But in contrast, there are also studies, showing that consistent rewards, can cause a person to feel empowered, or the opposite of a victim. In the study I am thinking about, a classroom of kids were told to not look at the teacher or pay attention to her unless she stood at a certain spot in the room. By the end of the class, the teacher, who originally was walking all over the room, was standing in that one spot where the kids had been told to pay attention to her or (rewarded her). This behavior of the teacher in response to the rewards by the kids was causing the kids to feel empowered.
There is a relationship between belief systems and how those around us behave. When we believe something is true, it can have an impact on those around us.
When we believe something is basically or inherently good, we can even expect to see the universe “align” for us, which empowers us even more, to see and expect continued good.
But when we believe something is going to punish us, we stop trying.
That is why I think it is so important for children to understand God is GOOD, because it empowers them to align with all the good in the universe and empowers them to try to achieve and produce more good.
Think of a child who BELIEVES that they can do math, and the parent or teacher gives that child problems, that can be easily solved, in order to build that child's confidence and feeling of success. That child will be empowered to try even more math problems.
In contrast, a child who always gets the wrong answer in math, will believe math is too hard and will stop trying to solve math problems.
Interestingly enough, I have always believed that I could “connect the dots” in complex situations because I tested very well in this kind of test where a series of straight and dotted lines forming 2 dimensional shapes had to be analyzed in order to predict their final 3 dimensional shape. This test started with simple shapes and finished with complex shapes with hundreds of lines. I remember getting an award for being in the top percent of kids who took this test in the USA.
What one little belief does for children is amazing, particularly when it empowers them to do good and gain confidence.
Even in a situation where a person might feel trapped, as in those men in the bottom of the ship, or others who are enslaved, perhaps to drugs, or bad choices, or food or money; understanding God, and the power of this belief in good, can actually cause the universe to align towards good, and I have seen evidence of this over and over again.
God good is powerful, and belief in God is empowering, and is in fact the only power.
Perhaps evil, or punishment can cause a behavior to stop, but there is no power in STOPPING, there is only power in GOING. GOOD is moving towards light, understanding, empowerment, strength.
We are not servants of God, or servants of nature or the earth. We are servers of the Lord…there is a big difference.