This week I have felt incredibly sad as I have watched the news and thought about the world. I watched a documentary on Syria. I watched another documentary about the Mediterranean which included stories of migrants trying to reach Europe. I saw news about detention centres for Uighurs in Xinjiang. I thought about Yemen. I closely followed the elections in Afghanistan and noted the violence and corruption that accompanied them.
I certainly don’t have any of the answers. I also think that taking sides or seeing any of these issues as black-and-white is part of the problem. But I have also thought about my son and his future and the world that he is and will be growing up in. He is not even one year old yet. As I reflected on all of this I thought of five values I would like to pass on to him.
1. To know that God is good.
Psalm 145:8-9 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
I know that this will be a controversial for some. I certainly don’t expect all my readers to share my faith. But this is a very important one for me. If God is good, there is hope. If God is good, we are all created in His image. If God is good, the brokenness that we see is the result of a fallen world and will eventually be put right. If God is good, redemption is possible. If God is good, He can be the perfect Father even when I don’t measure up as a father.
2. To be kind to people.
I want my son to know the value of kindness. Not just to people that are kind to him, and not just to people that he likes. The world needs more kind people. People that are kind to those who are different from them. People that are kind even when it costs them something.
Because kindness ultimately brings more joy than “success.” Kindness connects people. Kindness changes people.
3. To have an interest in the world.
I want my son to be interested in the world beyond his hometown. Or hometowns. I want him to love adventure. To travel. To be fascinated by cultures different from his own. I want him to see language learning as a doorway into a new world rather than a boring class at school. I want him to read. I want him to see how history and geography have connected and shaped all of us.
4. To cherish nature.
I want my son to experience the beauty of nature. The views from the tops of mountains and the sound of waves crashing on beaches. The wonder of the stars and the complexity of life. I want him to understand that nature is awesome and powerful and valuable and fragile. And to know that all of our actions can have an impact, both positive and negative.
5. To value working with his hands.
I want him to experience the satisfaction of exploring and fixing and making things with his hands. I want him to know that if he wants to, it is okay for him to choose a career where he works with his hands. And if he does not, I want him to treat people who do with dignity and respect and admiration. I want him to know that generations of people have made sacrifices, through their efforts, to build the world that we enjoy today.