Completely impractical ways to change the world: listen to children

Hilary Blake continues her summer series on completely impractical ways to change the world. Because there are so many good people and organisations talking about practical solutions to the world’s problems. Just for a change, let’s give ourselves permission to think smaller, simpler, and less practically.

The prophet Isaiah wrote of his vision of being led by a child in a good and peaceful place:

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
The calf and the lion and the fatling together,
And a little child shall lead them.
Isaiah 11:6

Maybe the school strike for the climate is part of what Isaiah dreamed of. At a political level, could we be led by children and young people towards a better future?

But also on a personal level, I invite you to listen, learn, be confronted and challenged by their straightforwardness. Share the wonder, the attention. Walk at the pace of a toddler.

As adults, we complicate things with our thoughts. Our internal monologue runs. We bring our questions to everything. Children remind us what we are missing. They show how to just be.

In February I was in a cemetery, as 35 people gathered at a burial. The youngest person there was two years old. After we left the graveside and slowly walked back to the cemetery gates, we spotted a worm by the side of the path. The adults took a quick look and carried on. The child stopped, said hello, watched the worm move. The rest of the party walked away, hugged, worked out which bus they needed back to the station, said goodbye to one another. Still the child and his mother were with the worm. I know they’re not still there because I’ve seen them since, but they might have stayed for hours.

To find the time to walk at a child’s pace and see the everyday earth with their attitude of wonder is completely impractical. And very much worth doing.

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