A world of their own'
lky Fr. Terence O'Brien S.D.B.
the development of the children can proceed in this way, there is hardly any limit to the demands that we can make on them and the sacrifices we can ask of them. In
deed this is a very necessary part of their development. This brings me to something which I had intended to deal with
later on, but which I think it would be more appropriate to deal with now.
We have to see the difference between leaving them in situations which they are not able to cater for by themselves, and helping them and making it possible for them, to go all out to help others, even in ways which make great demands on them.
It is very strange that there should be so little of the latter and
so much of the former, and yet it is this latter which opens the door to rapid development.
This is because we expand in proportion Dr the extent we become aware of the needs of others and are moved from within to want to do something to help. We remain narrow and constricted to the extent in which we are absorbed in ourselves and our own needs, even when they are good. It is not simply conscious and deliberate neglect of others and their needs, but not seeing. not being aware, not being conscious of them.
As I have suggested earlier on, children live in an autonomous world of their own and we have to lead them to emerge from this and establish harmonious and stable contact with the people and the world around them.
It is precisely this becoming aware of others and their needs and the willingness to respond accordingly, which draws them best and most safely through the autonomous shell, and makes possible a flowering and development of their personality in the maximum Way.
There are certainly plenty of needs today: so many millions of their fellows are living at or below starvation level, to mention only one, but I think it is a pity simply to help them to become aware or needs which are far distant to the non-realisation of those which are round about them.
It is much better and much sounder to begin with these latter, leading on in due course to those which are further afield. but this should not be done in any sense of exclusion, and once a beginning has been made, they can of course be occupied about both.
There tire many needs in a child's own home; not only the household tasks but the need their parents. brothers and sisters have for their affection. kindness and help. There are plenty of needs and distress in their own towns and neighbourhood: there are the needs of their own companions. which children can be particularly blind to. All of these we must help them to become aware of.
It should he emphasised that this k different to Just getting them to do things for others whether at home or elsewhere. or through belonging to some organisation. It is not just the act of helping or doing something for someone. which is of value in developing. although the acts can have value in this respect, but the inner awareness of the needs of others and the willing acceptance of their duty and obligation in consequence. This is what helps in development and formation so much.
The danger is therefore in taking for granted that the awareness is there in the case of children who show great readiness to help at home and elsewhere. This readiness generally disappears as they gel older if it remains purely external.
We must therefore do all we can to help this on from an early age: It is always a wonderful revelation to children whenever they discover that their help is needed. Tf we succeed, we will certainly find that this will also help enormously in establishing that partnership and relationship between ourselves and the children which makes the education of children such a wonderful experience. in spite of all it difficulties.