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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teach and Lead By Example

This morning's stoic reading on our blog Words of the Ancient Wise was from Seneca. 
It is better to look at common customs and vices calmly, without either laughing or weeping, since the former is a cruel pleasure, and the latter an endless grief.

My response that I posted was this...  "If we observe behaviour in the world that we find abhorrent we need to look for ways to help change that behaviour rather than to judge and berate but do nothing to help. It is better to teach correct behaviour by example and sound teaching than to just scorn others for their lack of refinement."

While I was in the process of actively raising my children I really tried to instill the principles of kindness, gentleness and self-control.  Whenever behaviour didn't follow these guidelines we would often say is that following the "Family Rule"?  This reminder would allow the perpetrator to reflect on whether their actions had been kind, gentle, or if they were exhibiting self-control...  This allowed my children to learn to self-correct from a fairly early age.  If, on the rare occasion, they needed to be further disciplined at least they knew why they were being disciplined and how they had fallen short of the ideal for behaviour. 

We raised our children to be citizens of the world, the family being their first "circle" that they were related to.  When they got older they realized that the circles continued into their friends, school, community, country and the planet that we live on.  We have a "family circle", one of the mexican candle rings that has five figures (one for each family member) that we light as a symbol of our family.  When behaviour was not at the best it was illustrated that such behaviour could break apart the family circle, etc.  Relationships are fragile, like the ceramic candle holder, and need to be nurtured with kindness, gentleness and self-control.

Raising my children with a sense of their citizenship in the world around them has, in my opinion, created reasonable, responsible and exemplary adults.  Each one a unique gift to the world around them.  

When we see behaviour in the world around us that is not gentle, kind or people are acting selfish or viciously, we need to seek out ways that we can change that behaviour rather than despise the people and walk away.  We can lead by example, be the proverbial "light shining on the hill" to encourage people to change their lives,  to be able to embrace the virtues as axioms for behaviour on a daily basis, to leave the world a better place for our having been here.  To live a life that can be an example to others and let this be our Legacy.