The Education Every Child Most Needs, Part 7

[Note: as part of my research for an upcoming children’s book, we’re contrasting the education that the culture gives us vs. the education a human most needs in this world. This is adapted in part from an essay by Landon Saunders entitled, What Every Child Comes Into the World to Learn.]

Cultural education says that we’re here to know the world. The education a person most needs says you’re here to be compassionate in the world.

If you get enough knowledge, you can be powerful, but our lives are not made full by power. They’re made full by compassion, by having a deep well of compassion for life.

Once there was a well and stones had been gathered around the mouth of the well: they were courage, duty, hope, loyalty, and knowledge. And then, hanging down into the well, was the rope and bucket of faith. And deep in the well was the one thing that could quench the raging thirst that causes human beings to shed the blood of other human beings—the waters of compassion.

The raging thirst became so great in the land, though, that the stones of courage, hope, duty, loyalty and knowledge all tried to get ahead of the game. They worked themselves into a frenzy, rolled themselves down from the well and hurled themselves against their opponents. Then faith got infected and went into battle, first swinging the bucket in great sweeps to smash heads, and finally noosing the rope to aid the executioners in their hangings.

Only compassion was not infected by the madness. Courage without compassion is a killing force. Faith without compassion is inquisitional. Knowledge without compassion only succeeds in turning a tomahawk into a hydrogen warhead. Only a deep well of compassion at the center of a human life can protect us from the damning madness that causes us to hurt others, even, and especially, the people that we most want to love.

The highest education is one that goes beyond information to give us compassion.

And, no doubt, one important way we can impact the world is to model that sense of compassion for the youngsters we know—and encourage them on the path of compassion.