Today I would like you to consider these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Social Arms: “Don’t say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.”
I really only remembered the simplification of this quote, John F. Kennedy attributed to Emerson, which I recall as: “What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.” I have always used this as my guiding light in raising my children. I offer this as my most profound lesson whenever I am asked, by a young parent, for guidance.
Our children learn from what we do. They are constantly watching. Our words mean very little, but the teachings we impart by the life we demonstrate are innumerable. Our children pay attention from day one to our every expression, each action and reaction, all mannerisms, our words, and how well we love. If you ever want to see what you have taught your children, simply observe the way they interact with the world.
If they see you lie, they will grow up lying.
If they see you hide something, you have left the store without paying for, they will grow up as thieves.
If they see you show hatred, for any reason, towards another, they will grow up failing to see the worth of others.
If they see you showing loving kindness, your children will naturally be gentle, loving individuals.
If you stereotype others or display bigotry, your children will automatically incorporate these actions into their lives without ever examining them.
I share this because your personal spiritual practice is being observed and emulated by your children. If you are living a life dedicated to becoming more loving, your children will eventually share that commitment. Telling them you love them is not enough. You teach love by demonstrating love. This promise of peace will also be passed on to your grandchildren and their children. What we live, teaches each generation after us. We leave a legacy of the life we live. Whether this is a conscious creation or not is up to us.
I will leave you, on the start of this Labor Day weekend (in the U.S.) to consider these wise words from Thich Nhat Hanh:
“There is a child inside all of us – That child is all future generations.”
It is imperative that we demonstrate the peace we hope to see, we are anyway so we might as well be conscious about it.
Have an amazing Labor Day if you are in America, if not still make this your best weekend yet.