Blessed are the peacemakers. For they are children.
If we’d let our youngest take the lead, my fearless prediction is they’d make many of our most intractable conflicts and divisions go away — hey, presto!
Let me tell you a bit about why I’m convinced of this — and without rehashing my longtime call for giving our youngest citizens far greater rights to self-determination. (Hopefully, though, once you read this, some of you will be inspired to join me in this call.)
First and most important, our youngest not only are the most adept at learning new languages (it’s mere child’s play to them — and so it’s scandalous that all children don’t have the chance to learn many languages before that window of opportunity ends), but that they invented human language itself — and that, when given the chance, they continue to invent languages. And of a kind that build bridges of connection — of peace, love, understanding — between one person, one society, and another.
I note in The Philosophy of Childing that the brilliantly illuminating physician and scientific researcher Lewis Thomas (1913–1993) did some etymological sleuthing to come up with an answer to the question of who exactly invented human language. He examined, for instance, the word “pupil,” and its dual meanings—a pupil in the eye, and a child who is a pupil at school. And here is what he concluded:
Every language derived from Indo-European has the same connection, and for the same reason: when someone looks very closely into someone else’s eye, he sees the reflection of himself, or part of himself. But why call that part of the eye a pupil? The same duplication, using identical terms for the pupil of the eye and a child, occurs in totally unrelated languages, including Swahili, Lapp, Chinese, and Samoan. Who would most likely have made such a connection, and then decided to use the same word for a child and the center of the eye? Most likely … a child. Who else but a child would go around peering into someone else’s eye and seeing there the reflection of a child, and then naming that part of the eye a pupil? Surely not, I should think, any of the members of a committee of tribal elders charged with piecing together a language; it would never cross their minds. The pupil-eye connection must have turned up first in children’s talk. [Italics mine.]
Thomas is convinced that language first evolved through the mouth of babes. So, if you go along with this — as I do, because the evidence is persuasive — our youngest are the most adept at learning languages.
But there’s more.
It’s just about beyond dispute that if you bring together a group of kids who speak different languages, they will fast create a new language so that they can all communicate together, and connect in ways that bridge and blend in dazzlingly caring colors their beautiful worlds of difference.
So what does that have to do with bringing about good things like world peace?
Everything. First, consider the development of a form of creole in Hawaii after the explosive growth of sugar plantations on the islands in the late 1900s brought with it a tremendous influx of laborers from places like China, Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, and the United States. As I relate in The Philosophy of Childing,
While adults among the different groups made scant and halting progress in communicating with one another, the children made comparatively fast work inventing a nuanced pidgin language. They soon were able to converse with one another, while their parents couldn’t make heads or tails of what their children were saying.
Children are inherently cooperative in the forms of communication they invent; it is second nature (first nature, really) to them, their innate disposition and capacity to communicate with one another, and they do so in ways that connect, make them as one.
Imagine if we let them take the lead among peoples of the world, if we let them convene and spearhead summits on solving our most pressing woes, and mediating conflict. Just leave them to their own devices for a while and they’ll invent a new language among themselves — and that in and of itself is a conflict solver, a peacemaker, a bridge builder, a wall smasher.
Just imagine the far richer languages and lexicons we would have if we would again consciously and conscientiously charge children with the task. They would evolve languages of empathy, of peace, and deep bonding, in an ever upward-ascending and expanding spiral.
Let’s move us adults offstage in such matters. Because once adults — the unimaginative ones who have lost all their innate Shakespearean vestiges — take hold of language and wrest it from kids, they create a language all too often of division, and violence. Hence adults created words that reflect their deeds — words like ‘hate,’ ‘race,’ ‘class.’
Our youngest don’t know anything about race, don’t know anything about class differences, or hate. They’re not wired in that way. (It’s my view that only after some adults toxically indoctrinate them on the fallacious and pernicious existing notions of race, and by extension racism, that this changes — and so we need to ‘unlearn’ such destructive conceptual and adult-invented constructs if we are to progress.’)
But more than that, and far more positively, I daresay that if children were allowed once again to take the lead in language evolution, from their naturally empathic languages there would almost automatically (or ‘ipso facto’) emerge societies that are more egalitarian, in this sense — they would be conducive to seeing to it that all people of all ages and backgrounds could participate and develop and discover their unique talents fully and freely, and hence make their optimal contribution to both self and societal evolution.
I have other reasons besides these speculative (but based on hard evidence) notions on why children’s natural communicative and language-inventing capacities would lead to peace and love, but I’l leave it here for now (my three year old bilingual daughter Cybele — a peacemaker if ever there was one (more on that later too!) just got home from preschool and wants to play with Daddy).
What do you think so far?