I want you to think for a moment about when you were a kid. As a child, I’m sure you had something you were very possessive of. Maybe it was a stuffed animal, a blanket. Perhaps it was a toy, or a book. Now think back to a time when someone asked you to share that item.
Just imagine, as a child, having something mean the world to you, and you’re just happily enjoying it. Then another kid comes along, maybe even someone you don’t know all that well or whom you aren’t good friends with, and they want what you have.
How does your little child self react? Of course you would say “no!”
But then an adult comes along and explains to you about sharing, and how you need to let the other kid use what you have. You hate this idea. But eventually, the adult will force you to go along with it, no matter how much you kick and scream.
How stressful is this for a child? See to an adult, we just see something simple:
– Child has thing, and is fortunate to have that thing
– Other child does not have thing
– Children should share, because sharing is caring (or some other such idiom that dictates our values that we don’t really think about)
Now imagine this scenario:
You are you, as an adult. You have something you are very possessive of. Perhaps it is your home, or your car. Maybe it’s your dog, or your child. Could even be your big screen television or collection of stamps. Then another adult comes along asking to borrow that item. You may not even really know this person all that well.
Tell me, how would you react?
Most of us would not even for a moment lend out something we were that attached to so easily. We may even laugh or scoff at the person for thinking they were entitled to what’s ours!
But this is what we expect of kids.
When I was a childcare worker, we had a rule at our centre: No toys from home.
Seems a little harsh, but the reasons for this were many:
– If the toy was damaged or broken, we were liable to replace it. As a non-profit, we couldn’t afford that
– When someone brings something from home, it creates a power imbalance. One kid has something, another does not. Perhaps one child can’t afford the item, or the parents will never let the kid use that item. It makes for some really tough situations where kids self-esteems are at play.
– Anytime there were items kids really wanted to bring in, I would go out of my way to make sure we could have them at the centre, for all kids to use. This way it was something that belonged to the centre and was equal.
When I worked with kids, I didn’t realize however, that for the kids that are forced to share items, it is like asking them to give up their car, or their television, or their home, to someone else they may not even like. It’s hypocritical of us as adults to teach kids to “share” when we have almost zero intention of doing so.
Attachments are a powerful thing. Imagine the sorrow a child will feel when a balloon they are holding gets caught in the wind. The child loses their grip and it flies away, forever. This same level of attachment doesn’t leave us when we reach adulthood – we just get bigger things to be attached to. Things that we feel are fundamental to our identity, our whole existence.
For the child with the balloon, they will get over it. Rather quickly even. But for the adult – losing the home, or the car, or whatever – their whole life is in upheaval.
Stress is caused primarily by our attachment to things in life. And although it is a perfectly human thing to be attached, we also have this innate desire to teach our children not to be so attached, and to share. To share even that which they are most attached to!
I wonder what the world would look like if humans did share their homes, their cars, and all that which they possess that is dearest to them?
What would the world look like if we weren’t so attached to things?
This is the nature of No-thingness.