Have you ever listened to They Might Be Giants music for kids?
They do an album called Here come the 123's.
It's a mathematical journey, a little like Schoolhouse Rock. It's a whole load of cheesy in some respects and yet, beautifully simple and profound in others.
One of my favourite songs is this one right here. It's called 'One everything'
Philosophical ideas aren't exactly what you would usually encounter in a counting song for kids, yet this seems to beautifully embrace just that - the concept of oneness, the concept of the interconnectedness of the everything, the fact that " If you go out and count up everything, it all adds up to ONE". How many maths albums have you heard that contain the words "We share the same omniverse"?
And I think this fact gets a little lost on us on a daily basis. We divide ourselves by class, by status, by jobs, by how we dress, what music we listen to - by a myriad of choices. We are so busy with our little cliques, distinguishing ourselves from THEM or THE OTHERS, defining ourselves as being like these guys or definitely not like those ones!
How easy to forget the accident of our birth. That we could have been born into a different family, class, part of the world, religion. That we could have been born to movie stars, murderers, sports personalities, queens, or beggars. And yet under our veils we really are all potentially the same, made of flesh and blood and emotion. We breathe the same air, drink the same water. We have the same potentiality, given the right cocktail of ingredients or circumstances we too could have turned out beggars, queens, sports stars, murderers or movie stars.
Recently I was with two other homeschooling families at a local park, and between us we have a bunch of boys who have hair ranging from short short to shoulder length. We had been happily enjoying a picnic and the children were all playing on the large skate ramps. When school finished, a wave of boys arrived in the playground and the tone completely changed as a string of abuse began, right in front of us, to our surprise and (mild) horror.
They were shouting stuff along the lines of "Hey gaybos. You must be girls 'cos your hair is long. Are you gypsies? Bet you're really stupid 'cos you don't go to school. Bla bla bla... (c*nting this and c*nting that)"
In short, OBNOXIOUS, jumped up, horrid little mouthy brats.
And they seemed very perplexed that we were obviously so different to them in how we dressed (ie, colourfully and not in uniform of any kind), and that we didn't fit into their worldview. One kid in particular just couldn't get his head round us at all, especially as our boys were polite, didn't say c*nt every other word, and had longish hair. Finn got so wound up with them in the end that after being taunted for a good 1/2 hour he whopped his pants down to prove his manhood!!!
I felt pretty sad that our guys had to suffer the abuse of these kids, and after letting them sweat it out some, we adults reluctantly got involved. But mediating didn't help either.... they just got even more cocky and sweary. We tried to say "hey, why does everyone have to look and do the same thing? Can't you accept that the world is made up of all sorts of people?"
Maybe those kids went to bed that night and thought about it a little. Maybe they realised they'd been arrogant and rude. Maybe their parents were neglectful, or swore constantly at them, or were very emotionally distant middle class folks who don't ever swear or hug their kids. We'll never know.
But walking away from that situation made me aware that our kids do share the same world as others who will be spiteful, who maybe aren't so fortunate as them, who won't see that it takes all sorts.
It really does take all sorts, and showing empathy and love to others who are rude and hurting is a hard lesson to learn. Any of us could be rude or hurting or afraid of otherness like these boys, we all have that potential.
I hope that my kids will feel able to empathise with folks from all walks of life, wherever they've come from, however horrid they may behave towards them, as there really is only one everything, and we're all part of it together!!!
Since this song is also about our interconnectedness, I thought it would be a nice one to leave on for tonight