Children, The Family and Health: What it Takes to Give Children Long Life
The Hawaii Workshop: Comments by Paddy Walker
“There can be no keener relevation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” Nelson Mandela
I came to you in a true spirit of love and concern and a deep desire to express appreciation of all that has been prepared for us. The rich mix of experience and ideas which has lifted our vision to new possibilities for ourselves and for our children. Our warmest alofa to the Hawaii Chapter for endless energy and enthusiasm you have put into this seminar - you have given us all so much joy and inspiration.
How fortunate we are in our association to have a visionary like Shirley Munyan to make this seminar possible - she is our agent for change and I applaud her generous spirit. This time we have spent together has been rich and rewarding, for our focus of attention has been on the most important people in the world - our children. Everyone who has spoken - speaking from the heart - has cared about children. Some have studied to a professional level in their desire to create opportunities for children to grow to reach their full potential; others have dedicated their lives to generate a love and trust network for young people. - all have had a deep desire to be an agent for change for children.
But to be an agent for change for children first you have to really love what you are doing. We need to be passionate about our purpose and let our spirit shine towards children so that is what gives children a sense of safety and creates a warm and comfortable relationship; in other words you need to be in a state of peace with yourself so that you can reach out with love towards children.
I am a Pacific woman, a child of Polynesia - who cares deeply about the children of the Pacific. Like many children of the Pacific I am part of two cultures - one foot in the taro patch and the other in the potato patch! I have lived all my life in the Pacific and I have had a lifetime love affair with children: perhaps it is because the child in me reaches out to children?
I became aware as I was trying to weave some words together to create a background to our workshop that in my life as in the lives of so many, often a prayer is woven like a thread through all we do and the prayer is for health and healing - for ourselves, for our families, for our children. Let me paint this picture for you more clearly.
I live on the fringe of a lagoon on a small island of the Pacific. Every morning, early, I walk through my garden to the golden beach and the soft sand delights my toes - I walk into the sea no matter what the weather- the sea could be in a rage or glassy smooth - I swim towards the foaming white reef - its rise and fall has music in its rhythm which enchants me. I look at the sky with clouds in amazing patterns and colours and then back to the island with its steep peaks and valleys richly dark and green, and I am in awe of the Creator of this universe!! The power of it all - the majestic way everything is connected. The sky to the sea, the sea to me - and I leave the sea with the deeply spiritual feeling of health, healing and wholeness. In my soul I am singing a song of praise that I should be alive in this world!
This same connectedness between sea and sky and land and trees I know should exist between the people of this earth, and I know if we became more aware of the power of connectedness we would pay more attention, for this is a certain way we can contribute to a new development of healing, health, and spirituality within ourselves, and our families, and ultimately change the world for our children. But we so easily disconnect ourselves!
Nelson Mandela in his little book of quotations says that: “The wounds that cannot be seen are more painful than these that can be treated by a doctor.” We need to be concerned that what we say and what we do to each other generates a sense of well being and does not hurt, expressing encouragement and giving courage, to your family and those within the circle of your life, will have endless repercussive effects on those near you and you! Being kind is a powerful tool for generating well being! I love this quote from Proverbs: “The law of kindness is on your tongue.”
In remembering the experiences of your childhood, it was the person with the warm voice and kind ways that lifted your heart and made you want to respond in a like manner. Sweet words create in others a sense of well being and awaken a sense of connectedness.
Your voice and what you say has a tremendous effect on children and wounding words can be heard in their heads forever. Words of courage and encouragement also stay with them forever and contribute to their sense of worth and well being. You know well how you can change a child’s whole attitude to a crisis just by loving them and helping them through the pain.
I know we need to teach kindness and compassion from the time a child becomes aware of its world. At the same time by your example the child is learning about all the virtues that act as a catalyst to a holistic and healthy life in mind body and spirit.
Nelson Mandela said in his summary of the first year of the Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund - “ There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” “We all know that one’s life is determined not so much by what life brings to you, as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens - circumstances and situations do colour life, but you have been given the mind to choose what colour it will be.” (John Homer Miller)
We can choose to be healthy and pursue wholeness and healing but the one thing that brings our lives together is the murmuring of love in our soul. Our sense of connectedness is in our feelings of spirituality.
Spirituality is the love you have within you and moves you to be the best your can be, for yourself and for others to act in a loving way. Today’s biggest deficit is not an economic deficit but a deficit of love. As the African proverb has it: Love is the only thing that increases when it is shared” - and sharing is being connected, and Mother Teresa’s words also express this idea “There is a hunger for ordinary bread and there is a hunger for love, for kindness, for thoughtfulness, and this is the great poverty that makes people suffer so much.” A gesture of connectedness is a gesture of love.
The following is a quote from the Psychology of Spirituality by J.B. Dannesh: “Spirituality connects us with the source of all creation and in the process enables us to become creators ourselves. Spirituality makes it possible for us to be both unique and united, thus removing once and for all the dichotomous mindset that has brought and continues to bring so much destruction and sorrow to the life of humanity. Spirituality is the force of transcendence and the source of transformation.
I come from a touching culture where kissing each other and touching each other gives one a sense of belonging - a feeling essential to well being. Music, dance, colour, and rhythm are also important facets of our culture that are uplifting. The search for Health, Healing, and Spirituality gives us all a reason for living, even though it does end up as a perpetual quest with an uncertain ending! The journey is the point. not the arrival. To settle for anything less (says Charles Handy in his book The Hungry Spirit) is to be a happy cabbage!!
What next? Why ask? Next will come a demand about which you already know all you need to know; “that its sole measure is your own strength..” (Markings-Dag Harnmarskjold) or to put it another way: Life is a marathon, not a horse race. In a horse race, only the first three count. The rest also ran. In a marathon everyone who completes the course is a winner. While some run faster than others and some compete with the others up at the front, most of the runners are running against themselves, seeking to better the standards which they set themselves. Life is more like a marathon for most of us. We choose which races to enter and what pace to run at, seeking most of the time, to better ourselves. There is ultimately no winning, no losing, only the taking part, and getting better will generate Health, Healing and Spirituality in you soul, which will in turn reflect on those around you - most importantly on your children - and for this we should be deeply grateful for it means we can contribute something real and valuable to a world of changing values. Everything we have said - everything we have done during this seminar has centered on a single theme; how to make a better world for our children - a world in which they can be healthy in mind and body and spirit. To create this possible world is in our power. These words I know will help us all reach a new point of understanding - “The greatest waste in this life is the love we have not given and the powers we have not used.” (Source unknown.)
Last Modified: June 05, 2010