Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Raising Kids in a Violent World

With a distressing mix of strong emotions I watched as the TV images of the war in Eastern Europe and bombs falling in the Middle East passed before my eyes. Then yet another domestic shooting incident vied for my attention. Inwardly, the events acted together like a noxious overdose of worldly reality.
     I wondered if parents, or any other person for that matter, could be expected to respond to such things without fear, cynicism or panic, with the risk of passing on those feelings of anxiety to the next generation. I was badly in need of more light on these issues and so I decided to consult the writings of two beloved spiritual teachers: Kahlil Gibran and Edgar Cayce.

The Search for Meaning

Both Gibran and Cayce address evil and crime. They offer a hopeful perspective in the face of human barbarity. In fact, both argue that Day and Night, good and evil, are part of the human experience and serve a larger goal. A goal, I might add, that may be beyond our grasp if we don't explicitly seek to understand. If anything, the current events cause us to search for meaning. Now more than ever do we want to rise above our initial fear and embrace faith and hope anew.

Thinking in inclusive terms

Interestingly, Gibran and Cayce both stress the fact that we're all connected, that we're all in it together. This means we need to think in inclusive terms, rather than in terms of "them versus us." Both speak of mankind as being one organism. "A single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree." (Gibran in "The Prophet") But why, I wondered, staying with the metaphore, do leaves turn yellow to begin with, and what am I supposed to do in reply? 

     Here, one of Cayce's views provides an insight. He explains that in the beginning all souls were one with the Father. Endowed with free will, some of these souls chose to turn away, imagining a life in the shadow, and with that they brought evil into the picture. Not knowing that they were out of accord with blessedness, they were in need of a way to come to that awareness. This is what experience in materiality is for. In passing through various material experiences souls become aware of their separation from the spiritual world, according to Cayce. Through experience, through suffering, through conflict and conquest, through love and service, souls learn to differentiate between day and night, light and darkness, good and evil. Souls must learn to be able to place true values where they belong. The soul's purpose in the earth is to grow in understanding of the nature of its relationship to its Maker and thus walk more and more in the Light.

     And where in this picture are we, I wondered - how far still to the Light? 

God-self and man-self

Let's turn to Gibran's perspective on man's journey. Gibran explains that our god-self remains forever undefiled. He is quick to add, though, that our being does not just house our god-self. Much in us is still man, and much in us is not yet man, "but a shapeless pigmy that walks asleep in the mist searching for its own awakening." It is the man in each of us that knows crime. As long as we stay pigmies in the mist we don't differentiate between good and evil, between cruelty and compassion. But once we evolve toward man, we become more sensitive and discerning. Barbarities and atrocities begin to affect us. Maturing further and further, the day of our god-self will arrive for us all and we will see all deeds in the fullness of light. "Only then shall you know that the erect and the fallen are but one man standing in the twilight between the night of his pigmy-self and the day of his god-self." (Gibran)

     So where do these perspectives leave us, parents and children in a world of cruel warfare and mindless killing? Cayce advises us to press on, because "God's plan for the world will never be overthrown." We were one with the Father in the beginning, and we will be one with Him in the end. 

Rising above fear

As parents, and yes, as a society that sends its children off to school each morning, we need to rise above the fear caused by the news of violent events. The darkness of these events should cause us to turn and appreciate the light, and place true values where they belong. When we understand the true nature of our relationship to our Maker and to each other, we enter the glorious dawning together.

Gibran, K. (1927). The Prophet. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.
Cayce, E. (1942). A Search For God. Virginia Beach, VA: Edgar Cayce Foundation.

Image of the two girls courtesy of stockimages at
Image of the world by Vlado, courtesy of stockimages at

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