By P. Susan Jackson
I am on my knees. I am not sure if it is in prayer or in total anguish. Another shooting in our sister-country to the South. Another tragedy too big to comprehend and loss of life so horrendous as to be truly unfathomable. I receive a text from my daughter; she is at a vigil downtown, a show of support for the victims, an assembly to demonstrate and to stand in cohesive community, to say “we are here”. I sit quietly thinking, proud of her, glad that she stands tall, glad that she reaches out, but find myself thinking: what have we taught our children?
Casal, the pre-eminent cellist, answers:
The second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again and what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.”
― Pablo Casals
How do we help to make the world worthy of our children . . . As we contemplate that question today in June of 2016, we are tasked with helping our children make sense of this world, and, in particular, recent events.
In an act of vile and incomprehensible hatred dozens are slain by a man “who remained calm after the attack”. We are left to wonder how this act of horror occurred, to speculate in abject shock about the circumstances that can generate such horrific and senseless disregard for the inviolability of human life.
And our gifted children in particular – our sensitive and aware uber- learners – how are they making sense of this atrocity? How do they sleep at night and dream of a future that has coherence and hope? For they know all too well that:
A human being is part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive. (Albert Einstein, 1954).
In this statement Einstein appeals to the most essential of human compassion, the very compassion that is over-flowing for the victims of this truly horrifying event.
A compassion that would not use visual representations of people – including a person’s perceived racial or ethnic identity – as a major marker for how they interact with them, and could not register specific gender or sexual orientation as intrinsically unequal. A compassion that pledges an incontestable and full-bodied liberty should we fully embrace it. A fierce compassion that wraps its arms around the human family – in all its wild variance – and summons the truest, deepest, unconditional love.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
“Compassion is the radicalism of our time.”
Dalai Lama XIV
How do we create those nurturing and stimulating environments that will facilitate this full-bodied compassion in all of our children: where their ideas, feelings and thoughts are understood, and truly and deeply valued? How do we design and deliver programs that stretches the boundaries of their intellects while also engaging their hearts in meaningful ways?
We know that children are enriched in a community that includes people of diverse cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. We know that opportunities for community service encourages lifelong attitudes and actions that promote effective (global) citizenship and civic engagement. The best teachers are role models whose wisdom, skills and caring attitude facilitate learning and help children develop diligence, confidence, morality, courage, humor and imagination.
And it is this imagination that we call on today.
An imagination that is capable of encircling the world and all the people in it.
An imagination that sees beyond differences and can fashion a new vision for living and sharing this planet, and the means to do so.
How do we reimagine the complex world we inhabit today – a world shot with beauty, and turmoil, and kindness and pain, and, in the end, a rich capacity for love?
JOIN US – the SENG FAMILY – in writing, or in any form of art or creative work, as we create a narrative or poem or image to REIMAGINE HOW WE MIGHT LIVE AND SHARE THIS PLANET. We welcome even the smallest contribution and your ideas need not address every challenge that we face.
Join us, in any way you can, in collectively practicing what the Dalai Llama terms the “radicalism of our time”.
Please send your files to [email protected] . These submissions will be compiled at the Daimon Institute and shared either directly at the SENG conference or through this newsletter.
Carling Jackson of HUMANITY ART has been commissioned to create a painting to help us reimagine the events of Florida in the spirit of truly embracing our differences and in the desire for deepest healing. This painting will be on display at the SENG conference.
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others.
You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
About the Author: P. Susan Jackson, Co-Founder of The International Gifted Consortium is the Founder and Therapeutic Director of The Daimon Institute for the Highly Gifted in White Rock, British Columbia, Canada. This international institute offers service to highly and profoundly gifted children and adults, supporting the learning needs and overall development of this exceptional population.
Her clinical work spans 25 years, comprising over 40,000 hours of psychotherapy wholly with this exceptional population. She is the author of numerous articles and chapters in the gifted education literature. Her Integral Practice for the Gifted model addresses multiple aspects of human functioning – cognitive, emotional, spiritual, physical and talent based dimensions – and explains how advanced cognition influences all of these elements, the Self, and the expression of talent.
In 2010, she produced a short documentary entitled “Exceptionally Gifted Children”, which she received wide acclaim internationally. In 2013-2014, the Daimon Institute produced “Rise: The Extraordinary Story of the Exceptionally Gifted” – a 60 minute film on the lives of 12 exceptionally and profoundly gifted persons from all over the globe.
Sue served as the Chair of the Parents and Curriculum Networks Communications Committee and Counseling and Guidance Network (National Association to Support Gifted Children), and is a member of the advisory board for SENG. She is recognized as an international expert in the field of the Exceptionally and Profoundly Gifted and regularly presents with other leading experts at the international conferences. She is a (nascent) photographer, poet, and nature lover with a passionate interest in advanced development, optimal health and well-being for the Profoundly Gifted populace.