Saturday, June 08, 2013

Speaking of the kindness cure.....

This was floating around my Facebook page yesterday. It may or may not be true, I didn't research it. I reposted because I think it's beautiful.

"When a woman of the Ubuntu African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes to the jungle with other women, and together they pray and meditate until you get to "The song of the child." When a child is born, the community gets together and they sing the child's song. When the child begins his education, people get together and he sings his song. When they become an adult, they get together again and sing it. When it comes to their wedding, the person hears his song. Finally, when their soul is going from this world, family and friends are approaching and, like his birth, sing his song to accompany him in the "journey".

In the Ubuntu tribe, there is another occasion when men sing the song. If at some point the person commits a crime or aberrant social act, they take him to the center of town and the people of the community form a circle around him. Then they sing "the song." The tribe recognizes that the correction for antisocial behavior is not punishment, but is the love and memory of his true identity. When we recognize our own song, we have no desire or need to hurt anyone.

Your friends know "your song". And sing when you forget it. Those who love you can not be fooled by mistakes you have committed, or dark images you show to others. They remember your beauty as you feel ugly, your total when you're broke, your innocence when you feel guilty and your purpose when you're confused."

I love the bit about reminding a person of their identity. It really made me think of the people I have worked with who have a criminal record or struggle with addictions. They are constantly reminded of their poor choices and even encouraged and required to identify themselves by their past. I wonder how our justice system could change and incorporate the idea of reminding, especially young offenders, of their identity outside of their mistakes. We could even keep this idea in mind when dealing with kids.

When Levi was in grade 4, he made an unfortunate decision at lunch time. I got a call from the vice-principal to tell me that he pushed a girl down amidst a group of boys. I was shocked, hurt and angry that Levi would even do something like that. When he was three, he was pretending to be a puppy at playgroup and accidentally bit another kid's finger. When he realized what had happened, Levi cried harder than the other little boy. How could my compassionate boy deliberately cause harm to a little girl?!

I drove to pick him up and on the way I prayed. I had no idea how to handle this, it was such a foreign issue. I thought I had done enough preventative parenting for this sort of thing. I asked God to grant me wisdom that day.

When I arrived, my son's face was a mix of defiance and disappointment. He got into the van and we drove in heavy silence as I continued to pray. "Levi, why did you do that today?" "The boys told me too. I want to be their friend." Ah. I understand that motivation. "Levi, all your life there will be opportunities to be a hero or a villain. What did you choose today?" "Villain" was his teary reply. "And, Levi, who are you really?" "I want to be a hero, Mom." "I know, Levi."

The conversation became about why Levi is such a great kid. He had so many people who loved and respected him so much at such a young age. Why would he change that for the respect of a few kids that would never really care about who he really was?

I did not discipline Levi in any way that day. There was absolutely no need. He, of his own accord, wrote that little girl an apology letter. We "sang his song" together that day in the van and it was very effective.

Other than my one story of Levi, I have no scientific studies to prove the value of this idea. That being said, I wonder how many other people in my life would benefit from hearing "their song" when they have failed, hurt someone, or even me. It is something worth contemplating as we brush shoulders and bump into each other. It is an attitude worth cultivating in a world filled with justification, entitlement and the rights of self.