The word charity brings to mind a number of alliterative definitions – conscience, compassion, consideration, concern – all of which children need to experience to understand what it means.
The experiences get filtered into knowledge, and as they grow, knowledge and experience together shape whom they become and what they do.
So how do children learn charity ?
We need to appreciate that the world of today’s child is vastly different from the one we inhabited as children. Ours was much simpler; today’s world is one that is instantly and unnervingly accessible through technology and a keystroke – both of which have become an intrinsic part of learning and leisure.
As a result of this immediacy of the moment, children are inundated and overwhelmed with unfiltered information – dire information in most instances; predictions, prophecies, facts and figures that presage gloom and doom – and which demand action, often immediate action.
At the same time, many of them (and especially in Singapore) are cocooned in a world of affluence, their reality often in direct contrast to what they see and hear.
Save the trees, save the world, help the animals, understand global warming … and in the same breath (and seamlessly), Halo’s latest thrill, phones that displace reality with a virtual world, television guaranteeing hours of inactivity, exotic travel destinations on tap …
It takes maturity to sift and absorb the multitude of messages, to not confuse and distort reality, to stay clear minded. It would not be at all surprising therefore if they choose to block out the world of pain at the risk of appearing insensitive and uncaring.
Awareness and sensitivity begins at home in everyday matters before it spreads out into the world.
Learning charity begins at home. It begins with small things … learning to care for yourself, your family (ten minutes with a grandparent ?), your friends … your pets, your plants, your surroundings … the ripple effect begins, creating wider circles that spread beyond home and country to touch the lives of others … who knows ?
Because we believe it all begins at home.