You may be thinking Aretha… I’m thinking Louis!
“I hear babies cry,
I watch them grow,
They’ll learn much more,
Than I’ll ever know.
And I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.
Yes, I think to myself,
What a wonderful world.”
When I hear this song it helps me to think on what is noble and lovely and right about the world. I think most of us remember the lines about trees of green, skies of blue and the colours of the rainbow but the words “They’ll learn much more/Than I’ll ever know” are the ones which resonate most strongly for me. They remind me that whether we are parents, teachers, principals or adult friends, we teach who we are; and those we teach are learning more than we’ll ever know from what we say and what we do.
Here is the connection to RESPECT. For ours to truly be a wonderful world, we need to have due regard for the innate dignity and worth of every human being (regardless of whether we like them or agree with them) and we need to teach this early and teach it often.
Campaigns in both Australia and the US which target violence against women, make clear the connection between adult words and actions and the development of respect in children. I think perhaps we need look no further than the child seats in the back of our cars, the shared jokes in our classrooms or the exchanges in some Twitter and Facebook feeds to get the same message.
Respect is an issue of the heart. It comes from a place of security in our own identity and manifests itself in an abiding focus on the value of others. Respect turns to wonder ahead of outrage, to kindness ahead of cruelty, to empathy ahead of mockery and to love ahead of contempt. These are the gifts we need to be offering the children in our homes and classrooms so that they in turn can offer them to others in both their present and adult lives. Perhaps then we wouldn’t need Sesame Street or our governments to do the job for us.