You’ve Got to Be Taught


Today’s topic all started while my husband and I were out walking on the trail this morning.  We passed an older couple (yes…. they WERE older than us….) who had stopped to ‘admire’ a group of cows in a pasture that the trail passes by.  Several of the cows were lying on top of big piles of cow dung that has been there for a while….(even the weeds have taken root in it!)  My husband made a comment as we walked by saying: “Isn’t it amazing how they prefer to lay in that stuff?”   The cute older woman said:  “Well, they aren’t taught to know any better like we are.”  After which the cow came back with a loud , “Moo!”  I turned to my husband and said, “Maybe they know more than we give them credit for!”

How much of what we know is instinct?  How much is what we are ‘taught’?  Now this can get to be a pretty heated topic, which is not my intention,  but I wanted to make a few points.

In the musical SOUTH PACIFIC there’s a song title; You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.  In case you aren’t familiar with the story or song…. Young Lt. Cable has fallen in love with a beautiful young French Polynesian girl.  Her Mother (Bloody Mary) likes Lt. Cable and wants him to marry her daughter can have a better life.  Keep in mind…. this takes place during WWII.  So here we are in a war against Japan…. a people who at the time Americans did not like.  Americans were still not very tolerable of the black people living in their country…. so liking or accepting people of another race was something that was not in the norm.  Lt. Cable, feeling that he cannot marry Liat, sings this song that states the following: 

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

Sadly…. this is still true in some places today.  Some people are still teaching their children to hate and fear.  Though I disagree that you should teach your children to hate other people, my question becomes…. what do we have a right to teach our children?  What should we teach our children?

I believe that we have a right as parents to teach our children our belief system, but it’s important to respect their rights as individuals.  I feel it’s important to teach children values like, honesty, charity, kindness, integrity, love of God and a host of other things.  Like making them feel valued as a person.  Goodness knows that I haven’t been the ideal parent all the time.  I made mistakes, as we all do.  But I feel that my husband and I did a good job teaching those things to our children that we thought were important.  Though some of them are making choices in their life that we don’t feel are congruent with what they were taught…. we respect their rights as individuals to make those choices.

Being a parent is one of the toughest yet most rewarding jobs a person could ever have the privilege of participating in.  A lot of what we learn as parents is ‘on the job training’.  Training without a trainer….!  Other than what we learned from our own parents and from others around us.  Of course there are books to read and who knows…. probably some videos now too….!  But we have to take what we see and are ‘taught’ and decide which of those things rings true to ourselves.

I’m grateful for parents who taught me good values.  Even though my parents were raised in a society that still did not accept other races very openly…. I’m grateful that they didn’t instill that in my head.  I was allowed to form my own opinions on those things and I never got any flack from them for it.  I saw them learn, with the rest of the world, that the old thinking attitude of: “We are better than they are” was not a good one to hold on to.  I saw all those old beliefs melt away.  They became two of the most accepting and loving people I have ever known.

I’m grateful for their example and grateful that I am allowed to teach my loved ones the things that I think are important!

One of the best songs ever written about teaching children is called “Children Will Listen“.  It’s from the show INTO THE WOODS.  I’ll sign off by sharing those words with you.

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say “Listen to me”
Children will listen

Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free
Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes the spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

How can you say to a child who’s in flight
“Don’t slip away and I won’t hold so tight”
What can you say that no matter how slight, Won’t be misunderstood
What do you leave to your child when you’re dead?
Only whatever you put in it’s head
Things that you’re mother and father had said
Which were left to them too
Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do it too
Children will see,  And learn,

Oh guide them but step away
Children will glisten
Tamper with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
“Listen to me”

Children will listen

CHILDREN WILL LISTEN!!  Check out this great rendition of Barbra Streisand singing both of the above mentioned songs.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZSt1pgjQdk&feature=related

I am Grateful!  How are you?

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