When someone announces they are pregnant, it’s happy news. You are going to be so happy when you see that little baby of yours, it’s truly a miracle. And it is – holding that small, innocent life in your hands – whoa; it’s quite something.
One day, I was walking with my husband through the mall, holding my son in my arms. As we are walking he says “Isn’t it funny, all these people here, were all babies once, just like our son. We were once a baby, just like our son”.
I look at all the people walking and shopping by. I notice the expression on their faces, mostly sad, zoned out – just going through the motions. I wonder what lives they live, what struggles they face. I notice their clothes and what shops they enter, which gives an inkling of their economic status. Some must struggle more than others. As we drive back we drive through parts of town with nice houses, we also drive past a township. I notice the people, the children. I remember all the people from the mall. I imagine all the people we’ve encountered today as little babies. All equally, cute, innocent and precious as my own son.
I become really sad and ask myself: God, what have we done?
Each of these people were little miracles. Once they all had the same joyful, trusting expression my son exhibits. That gaze that claims that only good can come their way. That the world is full of fun and possibilities, and they can’t wait to explore it.
And for most of these little miracles, the opposite happened. How could it have gone any other way?
We live in a world of conditionality. We don’t just live, we have to earn our living. While the adults go and earn their living – the children take a backseat. Schools, a place we are told we go to, to develop our utmost potential in life, turns out to be a babysitting factory where we each day get numbed and dumbed down a little more. While the material you get fed seems to rather go in the one ear and out the other once we’ve ‘passed the test’; what really sticks is the conformation, the peer pressure, the obedience towards those in positions of authority, the desire to meet your parents’ expectations, the labels that were thrown at you. Then school is over, and so is your childhood. Now, you too must go and earn your living.
I remember all the people we encountered again. How some were having disputes about their relationships. Parents struggling to get to things in time whilst children wanted to do anything but go where the whole family was headed. The threats, the shouting, the insulting of one another.
Even those earning their living, are not really living. Every day is just another struggle to get to the next, and the next, and the next. We hope for the best, even when our world shows us it’s one of very few winners and many losers drawing the short end of the stick. We keep doing what we’re doing, how we have been doing it – hoping, that somehow maybe things will be different for us or for our children.
This all reminds me of the Divergent movie series. Where everyone lives according to a system, a way of life as ‘how things have been’, and keep doing and living the same thing over, thinking it ‘must be the right thing’ – if it’s what we have been doing for such a long time, surely this is how things are supposed to be.
But then it turns out their entire society, their entire way of living, was just an experiment. It was never absolute, it was never a “law” that things must continue as they are. In fact, the experimenters were waiting for someone to change the whole thing. While the majority of the people saw themselves as good citizens, within living within the predetermined lines of the system, thinking and believing that ‘that must be its purpose’ – the purpose was exactly the opposite.
What if life on Earth, our way of living was just an experiment. What if the whole purpose of how we live, is not to continue living this way, but to step beyond it – to transcend it. To start colouring outside of the lines. Why do we insist on living li(v)es where every single person – every one of these single people having been a miracle at birth – end up living an undignified life? End up getting less than what every single person deserves; regardless of birthplace, race, or economic status?
I’d say we have experimented enough, and that the results of our experiment are pretty conclusive: this isn’t going anywhere good.
Let’s come up with something new. If not for us, do it for the children to come.
If you’ve been following my blogs, my facebook and/or my Instagram – you’ll have noticed a lot of pictures of my son Cesar. For the past two years, no-one seemed to have an issue with this fact. My son plays a central role in my life. Parenting plays a vital role in determining the character of our child, whether they will live their utmost potential – or succumb to the sins of our fathers: replaying generations of emotional and mental baggage.
When I embarked on my parenting journey, I realised I had a lot to learn. But that if I was open to myself, my son and new possibilities – I would find new ways of establishing parent-child relationships based on mutual respect and trust rather than control and domination. Control and domination which not only govern parent-child relationships, but the way we live our lives on Earth. It’s in parenting, the school system, our employment system, government, financial sector, corporate sector – anywhere you look, this dynamic rears its face. That’s because all of these systems, all of these structural set-ups in the world come into being, are maintained and fuelled by individuals. Individuals who were once children. Children who were raised under the guide of dominance and control. People – who simply ‘know no other way’.
So, within realising the problem at hand – and having the opportunity to evaluate and walk a parent-child relationship myself; it immediately became clear that: whatever I learn, whatever I realise, whatever mistake I find that I can correct = is indispensable to share.
In the day and age where centralized information is more and more taking a side-position, where more and more people are broadcasting their individual lives, research, insights, realizations – it only seemed natural to use this powerful medium as a tool for sharing a message.
But now – back to the main story. I’ve been posting pictures of my son for a little bit over 2 years, with stories, realisations, insights that I developed and gathered while walking my personal journey. It’s been an absolute pleasure to read people’s feedbacks. To read and see that many of us walk and face the same obstacles, that people can relate and find themselves in my story and are able to help themselves through it. So what changed?
Well, as part of potty training we started leaving his diaper off. It being African summer and getting quite hot, he was quite comfortable not wearing any clothes at all. He then started liking not wearing any clothes at all as it improved his range of motion and simply liked the comfort of being naked. It’s nice to be naked.
Our lives simply continued, I kept taking pictures. So now there are some pictures where his monkeybutt is visible. While in general the feedback from other people remains the same as people continue to enjoy the storylines accompanying the pictures, some concerns start trickling through.
That I “should be careful posting pictures of my son on the internet”. That “there are a lot of freaks and creeps out there”. That I’m “exposing my child”.
What to do? Personally, I love that he is comfortable in his own skin. I love that he has zero body issues and doesn’t see anything wrong with his body or nakedness. I remember my own childhood moments of being naked, free and enjoying myself – whether inside the house or in nature. Where the size, shape or colour of your body didn’t mean a thing. You were here, alive – celebrating your existence!
The problem is not our care-free children. The problem is not our children’s self-comfortability.
The problem lies with US. We react to children expressing themselves, innocently, naturally. We react because ‘people might get aroused’, staring thinking all kinds of things – maybe even go as far as planning to kidnap our children to play out their fantasies.
But how do these dysfunctions get created in the minds of such people? And how do we exacerbate and aggravate such as issues once we become aware they exist? Will not posting pictures of my child playing provide a solution for these individuals and society at large which fears their danger? No.
These type of mental dysfunctions are the result of not understanding, not knowing oneself. Where for instance, one see a child play, realise their innocence and their sense of freedom. Where we see that we have lost that innocence and the ability to just ‘be ourselves’ regardless of what anyone might think. We see that we ‘like’ seeing this expression, this innocence at play. What we are not seeing, is how children are showing us that which we have lost – and what we need to regain for ourselves. Instead of focussing on how we can become carefree and innocent like a child once more, it’s easy for a person to start focusing on the child itself as an object, a gateway TO innocence and freedom – rather than developing and living innocence and freedom ourselves. One starts to believe that the only way one can experience this expression is through them. Now one starts reacting that one likes and enjoys children and their expression. That maybe something is wrong with oneself, that maybe…maybe I am sexually attracted to this child? Now one’s mind goes to all sorts of places – and within not realising that the issue at hand is one’s relationship with oneself which has got NOTHING TO DO with the child – one fixates and obsesses over the child and one’s reaction towards the child which one judge heavily. The more we judge ourselves, the more we fuel the particular reaction, the more it builds up, the more it starts seeking RELEASE. And then people do stupid things, and people get hurt.
Not posting pictures of one’s child, or ensuring one’s child is always ‘nicely covered’ with low tolerance for skin, only perpetuates the taboo. It only enforces the idea that the issue lies with the children, and not the adults. The more we try and hide and cover up – the more we label something as ‘bad’ the more resistance we create around the subject. And whatever we resist will persist. In the meantime, our children get the indirect message that they are ‘bad’ for enjoying themselves, that nakedness is shameful (even though it may not be our intent to relay this message), that they should monitor and put a limit on their expressiveness because someone might want to come and take advantage of it. In the meantime, you’re also sending a message to everyone other than your child that: you can’t be trusted. You’re perverted. You can’t control yourself. Later, when the child is grown up to an adult – he now has reactions towards ‘skin’ and ‘nakedness’. Thinking and believing it’s something ‘special’, something he needs to ‘explore and experience’ – because he was denied his own experience of intimacy and comfortability with and in his own skin.
We see this same pattern the area of dressing codes, where schools are more and more restricting and imposing rules on what a girl may or may not wear out of fear of ‘triggering’ any classmates or male teachers. That women shouldn’t dress attractively or be their expressive self, because then they’re ‘asking for rape’. This ideas and opinions persist, regardless of studies showing that if someone is set out to rape or abuse someone – they’re going to do it. That what we believe ‘triggers’ a person, is most often not the reason or justification they used to take advantage of another. That a person will go forward with rape or abuse, regardless of how one dresses. This is because ANYTHING can be made into a justification for abuse. If you wear clothes revealing a lot of skin – a person may go ‘Oh, she’s just asking for it – look at her’. If a girl is dressing modestly, the same person might go ‘Oh, she’s playing hard to get but she’s actually dying for it’. A girl may give another a friendly smile – and one can go ‘Oh, that’s a sign that she likes me and wants to have sex with me’. Another girl, who was told to dress modestly, not ever smile, or to not every make eye contact with strangers because of the fear of getting raped; may come across someone who interprets the behaviour as “Why is she acting like I don’t exist? Does she think she is so much better than me? She deserves a lesson!”.
So really, covering yourself up, not covering yourself up, doing a bit of both – IT DOESN’T MATTER.
If someone is out to take advantage of another because of their own personal issues with themselves = they’re going to do it. It doesn’t help to control, monitor and manage the symptom. All you end up with is a lose-lose situation. You end up with people having dysfunctional relationships with themselves who do not get addressed, while everyone else supresses and goes into hiding.
The least we can do is to be true to ourselves, to express ourselves freely – to show others ‘this is how you do it’, ‘This is what having a healthy relationship with yourself and others looks like’. The moment we hide, change ourselves, and suppress ourselves – we’re allowing the problem to take over. That we’re victims to the situation and the only thing we can do is to adjust ourselves to accommodate other people’s weaknesses.
Personally, that is not a way to live.