A Community of Children

I was driving with a friend recently, when she started to comment about the other drivers on the road. As we were moving through traffic and enjoying some music the conversation brought up a question. When did driving stop being community collaboration? You may be wondering what this question has to do with child development? Before that moment I had never once considered driving as community collaboration. Thinking a little deeper, I came to the conclusion driving used to constitute community collaboration like many other things in life.

Community is defined as “an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location”. Utilizing this definition driving does constitute community collaboration, just like waiting in a line, shopping, walking around town, taking the subway and going to the park. Unfortunately many of these daily tasks in life have moved from collaboration to competition and people are watching, especially children.

Children are watching as their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are interacting within the community honking, distracted, swearing and complaining. Not only when driving, but during many of the routine activities that make up our day. Shopping at holiday time now represents a competition to see who can obtain the best gift. If needing to run over someone at midnight on Thanksgiving eve is necessary that is accepted. Driving personifies a competition because if people drive the speed limit or obey the traffic laws others claim their right to share with them how to drive with a honk, a yell or a one-finger salute. Waiting in line because the person in front of you is asking questions from the bank teller constitutes a major inconvenience. How dare they!

Has our community become so personalized and customized that people forgot that other people exist? Everything today is prepared for our own personal likes. We can obtain the perfect cup of coffee, paint color, TV show, type of food, temperature, and so much more at the touch of a finger, or a touch of our phone. What people desire when they desire it. Why wait to cook food when we can drive to a screen, talk to it, and poof! Food comes out of a window in 3 minutes or less.

What happened to our everyday community? Sure, we experience community events where people come together for the greater good. These are wonderful events that help out those in need and bring people together to serve their neighbors. In my opinion what happens after these events makes a greater impact on shaping our community and the children in it.

Children would benefit greatly by witnessing the actions we are practicing everyday more than the actions we are asking them to practice. If people could return the everyday events of life into the community events they used to be, children would learn waiting for a few minutes is a part of life and a good time to live in the moment or daydream. The way adults choose to exist in our community and interact with others influences children who are watching and learning how to act and shape the community of the future.

All of us have to decide if we can pass up some of our immediate wants so children can grow up with a model of behavior that not only talks community but embraces community through our actions and how people treat each other everyday. “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” ~ Dalai Lama

How do our actions affect the community we live in? How do our actions influence children?