What Can Adults Learn from Child Heroes?

November 6th, 2013
By

Wisdom does not always come with age – but it’s never too late to try, says Judy Colella.

“On so many levels of our society today, from social media, reality TV and even in our political discourse, children are seeing adults acting reprehensibly,” says Colella, a musician and author of a young adult fantasy, “Overcomer-The Journey,” (www.themacdarachronicles.weebly.com), Book I of The MacDara Chronicles.

“In fact, there are many examples in which children are taking the lead in being leaders and setting the better example.”

They include kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with disabilities and youngsters with few positive role models.

“I was able to overcome my childhood obstacles, and I want kids to know that they can, too,” she says. “No one determines what you do in life but you.” Colella was herself a foster child who was lucky enough to be adopted by a loving family.

Colella offers some shining examples of children’s actions that can be a lesson for both other children and adults.

• 15-year-old speaks out for education for all: In one of the scariest places on Earth, Malala Yousafzai demonstrated bravery by standing up for her right to an education. She took a Taliban bullet, shot into her skull after her bus was stopped en route home from school, and boomeranged it into one of the group's worst PR moves. In Pakistan’s Swat Valley, the international terrorist group had intermittently banned girls from school and had targeted Yousafzai for speaking out against the ban. She continues to proactively support education for all children, and was recently listed in Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”

• 12-year-old wanted to honor his uncle: After Sam Maden’s uncle died in the winter of 2010, Maden wanted to honor his support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. So, he posted an online petition asking the Boston Red Sox to get in the game by producing an “It Gets Better” video. The videos are the result of a national movement that began in response to a wave of suicides among bullied teens, especially LGBT youth. In less than a week, Maden had 9,000 signatures, and Red Sox became the third professional sports team to produce a video for the campaign.

• A birthday wish from 9-year-old Rachel Beckwith: Rachel Beckwith’s birthday wish wasn’t for herself; it was to raise $300 to build wells in Africa. Tragically, Beckwith never had a chance to experience the benefit of her altruism – she died before her 10th birthday. News of the story went viral, inspiring donors to raise more than $1 million for the nonprofit charity. The little girl’s mom was able to visit Africa to witness firsthand how her daughter contributed to saving lives.

“Now these are touching and inspirational stories! While there sometimes seems to be obsessive coverage involving bad-behaving kids – or bad-behaving adults – it’s wonderful to know that there are so many amazing stories of children supporting the most vulnerable in society,” Colella says.

Do you know of an amazing child whose story you can share with us?

3 Responses to “What Can Adults Learn from Child Heroes?”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    I have listened to several Medal of Honor recipients describe their heroic actions. All of them denied they were fearless (as a child would be) -- they all said they were extremely frightened; they fully understood that their behavior was extremely risky and they might die; but they felt a strong sense of duty to achieve their objective and to protect their fellow soldiers despite their fear. A child is not able to have such complex awareness and motivation, which is why a child soldier would never deserve a Medal of Honor for the same actions for which an adult would deserve it.

    There's also a very different, spiritual explanation for why a child might behave heroically. The title of one of my favorite poems, by William Wordsworth, says it: "Ode to intimations of immortality from recollections of early childhood." Google it. The theory comes from Plato. Before someone is born his soul resides in the perfect, eternal, unchanging World of the Forms, where goodness and wisdom are the core of his existence. After a person is born, he still has that Truth inside him, which gradually fades away and gets covered up by everyday experiences; but children are more recently and more closely in touch with Truth than adults and so might occasionally have stunning insights and moral courage which adults have lost. The Socratic method can help adults recollect their forgotten knowledge -- they can "remember" things they never learned but which were inside them from before birth. That's also the basis of Karl Jung's style of psychotherapy.

    Whew! Too deep? Forgive me. I have an incurable illness -- I'm a philosopher. If you want more on this topic, try my essay on "Nothing" at
    http://tinyurl.com/a6jqo
    and perhaps my essay ""Knowledge, Proof, and Ineffability in Teaching" at
    http://tinyurl.com/4k7vyh


  2. Ken Conklin:

    Oops. I left out the first paragraph.

    One reason why children can look like heroes is because they see things only in the simplest way. Black or white, with no shades of gray (certainly not 50 shades of gray *LOL). No complications or contingencies, or "what if"s. That's also a reason why children can seem so courageous or heroic, because they don't consider the risk or downside of possible loss. That's also why college students are so notoriously radical in politics -- they can advocate "take from the rich and give to the poor" and "down with the government" because they have no houses or careers or dependent children who would be put at risk by irresponsible behavior.


  3. Ken Conklin:

    One reason why children can look like heroes is because they see things only in the simplest way. Black or white, with no shades of gray (certainly not 50 shades of gray *LOL). No complications or contingencies, or "what if"s. That's also a reason why children can seem so courageous or heroic, because they don't consider the risk or downside of possible loss. That's also why college students are so notoriously radical in politics -- they can advocate "take from the rich and give to the poor" and "down with the government" because they have no houses or careers or dependent children who would be put at risk by irresponsible behavior.

    I have listened to several Medal of Honor recipients describe their heroic actions. All of them denied they were fearless (as a child would be) -- they all said they were extremely frightened; they fully understood that their behavior was extremely risky and they might die; but they felt a strong sense of duty to achieve their objective and to protect their fellow soldiers despite their fear. A child is not able to have such complex awareness and motivation, which is why a child soldier would never deserve a Medal of Honor for the same actions for which an adult would deserve it.

    There's also a very different, spiritual explanation for why a child might behave heroically. The title of one of my favorite poems, by William Wordsworth, says it: "Ode to intimations of immortality from recollections of early childhood." Google it. The theory comes from Plato. Before someone is born his soul resides in the perfect, eternal, unchanging World of the Forms, where goodness and wisdom are the core of his existence. After a person is born, he still has that Truth inside him, which gradually fades away and gets covered up by everyday experiences; but children are more recently and more closely in touch with Truth than adults and so might occasionally have stunning insights and moral courage which adults have lost. The Socratic method can help adults recollect their forgotten knowledge -- they can "remember" things they never learned but which were inside them from before birth. That's also the basis of Karl Jung's style of psychotherapy.

    Whew! Too deep? Forgive me. I have an incurable illness -- I'm a philosopher. If you want more on this topic, try my essay on "Nothing" at
    http://tinyurl.com/a6jqo
    and perhaps my essay ""Knowledge, Proof, and Ineffability in Teaching" at
    http://tinyurl.com/4k7vyh


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