Children are very wise and very compassionate. Two or three times over this past weekend I have run face to face into this compassion. On the fourth of July we were shooting some fireworks in Alabama and I was acting like the “popping” was scaring me. My little 3 year old grandson Eli saw me…and walked over and put his arms around me and said: “Don’t worry Papa…they won’t hurt you” The sincerity of his statement was enough to convince me I would definitely be O.K. It gave me confidence in life.

On Sunday we had my granddaughter Rue’s third birthday party, and we were near the end and Kirsten was giving out “treat” bags for the little kids. Again, I was just kidding around and pretending I was sad because I didn’t get one. Rue brought her goody bag over and said: “Poppy…you can have mine…” The sincerity of this was almost enough to bring a tear. Eli didn’t make it to the party because he was sick, so before we left Rue gave me Eli’s treat bag and said: “Maybe it will make Bubba feel better.” It gave me hope for the future.

Could we bottle this innocence which has at one time or another been directed at most of us? When do we grow out of this stage and become sarcastic and cynical? When do we begin to direct hatred and vitriol at other humans? At what point do we grow up into “adults?”

I have to have faith that these children will cure what is wrong with our world. I have watched these two grown from the inability to even feed themselves, to compassionate and beautiful children. Why can’t it continue throughout their lives? I hope that it will. In their cases I have faith that it will.

I wonder perhaps if all children got the touching and hugging and security they really needed if they would become criminals? If they had parents or grandparents who touched them in love continually and sincerely, would they need to call names or belittle others? I don’t know…it’s just a thought. I believe that those adults who are around children for the first few years of their lives have a profound influence on how the remainder of their lives will be lived. I don’t think social status means as much as love. I don’t believe religion means as much as touching….and the warmth of snuggling up to a Mother or a Father. I don’t believe a person’s place of birth means as much as gentle words, whispered while feeding an infant or a toddler.

I see on television and in other media, the cycles of violence which go on around the world. I wonder what circumstances the adults who are perpetrating the violence had to endure as children. I see there are entire countries which are simply gang controlled drug fiefdoms, and I wonder what circumstances the children who live there have to endure. Will they ever, have they ever…even had the chance to be a child, or did they have to grow up at the age of five into an adult trying to survive and stay alive?

I love children. I always have. They are blank canvasses upon which a work of beauty, or a work of hopelessness can be drawn. It all depends on those who mix the paint.

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