There is a news story about a six-year-old boy who is raising funds to help those in need through his art. This caused me to ponder on inherent potential and how we nurture or stifle it.

Good for his parents, trusting that their child would show signs as to his gifts and capacities, to simply encourage and to supply materials appropriate to his development and desire to be of service to others. I believe that all people are creative. I also know for a fact that creativity can be, and is, conditioned out of our children, often through the best intentions of parents.

Look at the focus, particularly in the western world, on providing endless stereotypical toys for children — little cars and sports paraphernalia for boys and Barbies for girls. What can they possibly learn from these, other than a self-identity based on bigger toys, competition and dominance in men, and self-worth through appearance for girls? And, when these children become adults and establish new relationships with others and society based on expression of these same qualities, we might do well to reflect on the source.

Should we not be providing material to our children that will allow them to express themselves through the gifts with which they are endowed, to understand what is meaningful in life and will help them to channel their inherent sense of beauty and human relationship through their hands and their intellect — and ultimately to recognize from where these gifts and capacities originate?

All the arts are considered as “extras” in the public education system, an attitude which is also reflected at home when parents do not respond to and encourage their children to respond to beauty and relationship in the world around them — a world, which, to young children, consists of their immediate family and their home. I grew up and, like most other children, was damaged by the schools I attended. I do, however, have no words to express my gratitude to my parents who, though of limited education and material circumstances themselves, provided a home environment for my development that I can only describe as pure magic.

My mother described the simplest things of life in ways that transformed even a glass of water into something that inspired imagination and gratitude for simple things. My father included me in gazing at the stars and allowing full rein of his workshop.

Looking back, the opportunities I had at home were not unusual. They were recognized and passed on by parents who understood that love, like the movement of air, cannot be pushed because it will only circle and return on itself. Love and air can only be pulled — attracted — and that movement creates freshness and life. I learned that all things, even the simplest, had layers of meaning that revealed themselves in time, as expression and interaction became ever more complex.

I also feel that this novel coronavirus pandemic has layers of meaning — both painful and hopeful. Isolation, though difficult to get used to, brings to the forefront the primary building block of society — the family. Most people are spending far more time at home and are being compelled to readdress relationships, responsibilities for development, and purpose in life. Shall we embrace it? We want things to change. Shall we start with a long hard look in the mirror?

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