Towards a Spiritual Generation

I feel good about my son. He is in good hands; the hands of a good community. His gifts will be nurtured. For is it not our greatest responsibility, as caretakers, to simply not fuck with who our children are in the first place?!

“Its easier to raise a healthy boy than to fix a broken man” said Frederick Douglass. Those I know are either broken, and are not aware of it, or are at various stages of healing themselves. My son, like all children, is who he is, and only requires me to nurture, validate, mirror and encourage him to recognize and continue being who he is.

Yes, boundaries are necessary, but we wage wars on their nature — erecting barriers instead, at the same places that our own are raised, defaulting to curbing their enthusiasm to where ours was short circuited and justifying it with the doctrine of ‘Discipline’.

Enforcing barriers is psycho-emotional violence. Boundaries however, emerge organically from a child’s innate need to simply find his place in a community, like melting ice on a hot sidewalk, inevitably and naturally filling the cracks within pavement.

I do not blame my parents for their shortcomings as caretakers; their subtle psychic violence through manipulation and control. They were children of a generation that needed to find food, escape war and stave off disease and poverty. There was no time to figure out if they were present and sensitive enough in their parenting when clothes on backs and food in mouths was the necessity.

But it is precisely because of the efforts of our forefathers, where our needs of safety and security have been met, that we are able to re-divert our focus from the external to the internal.

This often happens on its own rather than out of choice. When the wars and famines are not threatening us, yet we still experience anxieties and phobias — genetic hangovers of what our ancestors had to endure — and when classier cars, holidays to Bali and promotions aren’t alleviating the pain, we are forced to look inwards for solutions.

My family poked their collective finger into the bible of materialism, vehemently claiming that they worked so hard to give me the opportunities necessary to succeed so that I could achieve ever greater heights in the world of recognition, safety and prosperity.

Where they lacked insight, however, was that the next leap forward wasn’t to graduate into higher echelons of material richness, but for entering the kindergarten of psycho-spiritual development, for becoming the first generation to start looking for inner safety, inner security, inner contentment.

My parents always balked whenever I told them of what lay beneath the hood of our glossy family veneer — “You had a great upbringing, there was no alcoholism, nor was there physical violence like there is in other families, you have nothing to be unhappy about!”, which ironically proved my point in dismissing and invalidating my obvious discontent.

This reflects the perspective of the previous generation — that in meeting the needs of safety and nutrition, the job of a parent was mostly done.

Our society only draws a line at physical violence in a domestic setting. Emotional violence is still an unclassified phenomenon outside a psychiatrist’s office.

It is the inevitable responsibility of every subsequent generation to build, standing on the shoulders of their ancestors. But instead of adding extra stories to our houses, we are ready to change directions in becoming the architects of our inner worlds.

It is not self indulgence, privileged, or self entitled to be focusing on self development as is sometimes argued. Improving our psycho-spiritual health IS what will eventually lead us to loving our neighbor, community and the world, rather than eradicating one another — as we are still prone to doing through everything from road rage, to envying our friends to hating ex-spouses and judging people of opposing faiths. It is the very thing, the only thing, that will transform jealousy, anger, possessiveness and hatred that leads to animosity in relationships, tensions within societies, mistrust between religious orders and eons old loathing between ethnicities. In healing our inner divides, we cannot help but see unity where we normally see division.

Because there is minimal acceptance of this within mainstream society, there is no recognition of the spiritual warriors waging this battle. We acknowledge and reward our politicians and our soldiers, but pay no heed to the everyday mystics and poets.

I have first-hand experience living in an area that is fertile with spiritual growth, in a community that supports one another in a mutual understanding of the inner growth process. Here, there is a running joke (or more of a wish) that — if only there was recognition of spiritual work as a valid way to contribute to the collective, perhaps then societal expectations around achievement and success could be broadened and deepened to acknowledge this.

Perhaps after the racial, sexist and sexual orientation divides have been bridged, maybe then this minority can come out of the shadows to be recognized also. The irony is that the other minorities can only truly be integrated, when the inner healing has been done. As external divisions are merely reflections of inner ones.

My son is in good hands because, as I repeatedly stumble and continuously fall as a spiritual preschooler, fucking up as a father over and over again, I am blessed to be supported by other warriors, a community filled with wisdom and the right sort of experience to provide him with what I often lack in being able to offer. After all, it takes a village to raise a child and better it be filled with healthy adult-children than with broken pseudo-adults.