Guided by Youth

My son is going to save tigers. He’s clear on this, and looking for ways to go about it. Being a cynical adult, I can see all the reasons why it won’t work, all the impossibility. That is, arguably, a product of my experience. Part of ‘growing up’ for so many of us, is about learning that we can’t achieve, that it won’t work and that there probably isn’t much point trying in the first place.

This is one of the big differences between children and adults. They don’t know that they can’t. They believe all things are possible, and have a sense of their own ability to change the world.

It’s very easy to come in as a jaded adult and tell them there’s no point. So easy to say ‘you will make no difference and you’re wasting your time.’ It takes just a few seconds to crush a dream and trample on inspiration.

The sure fire way to fail is not to try in the first place. The second possibility lies in giving up. When we try, and keep trying, and refuse to admit defeat, there is real possibility for change. One of the things that sets heroes apart from the people who never do anything, is that the heroes very seldom have the ‘common sense’ to know when they are ‘beaten’. Most of the younger folk still believe they can make a difference in the world. They have a capacity for heroism and vision that dies in people once they buy into the myth of their own powerlessness.

People have the power to do all kinds of amazing, world transforming things. One of the reasons most of us don’t, is that we long since stopped believing that we could. We do not need to teach our kids that they are destined to fail. When they dream wildly, why not listen? Children often have a clarity and capacity for hope that we could all learn from. James is going to save tigers. I am not going to tell him it’s a lost cause.