Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Encouraged to Accept

Initially, I started this post in a state of crazed, righteous indignation. I am mad and frustrated and sad and tired but the last thing the world needs is one more hyped-up lunatic spouting off that we are raising a generation without compassion and morals. A generation that is using technology to attack and bully one another into cutting and suicide. So here's the thing, how do we change it?

We use our words and we teach our kids how to use their words, not as weapons but as bandages.

When I was a teenager I attended a youth group at my cousin's church and it changed my life. It was there, every Friday night, that I learned two vital lessons. The first, that every person has been created for a purpose, is valuable and precious. The second, I learned the art of encouragement.

At this youth group we all had mailboxes and on top of the mailbox was a stack of brightly colored recipe cards called simply, Encouragement Cards. We were asked to use these cards to write notes of encouragement or compliments to each other. The youth leader also took steps to ensure that we wrote not only to our best friends but to everyone in our group. He would have us write to the person who had the mailbox beside us, under us or three doors down from us. At special youth events we had to write one to everyone at the event.

It was through the giving and receiving of these cards that we began to understand that we each have value to the group and that no matter what differences we have we can always find some common ground. I think that's what's missing these days. Kids are not taught to respect and value each other. They aren't made to look each other in the eye and say something positive to one another (another one of the youth leader's favourite exercises). They aren't given the tools to risk rejection on the gamble of experiencing full acceptance.

All I'm saying folks is that maybe if kids are taught to appreciate the people around them they might be less likely to wound them with their words...or worse.

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