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April 22, 2009

Child Honouring, Raffi-Style

Of course I know who Raffi Cavoukian is. I know the name Raffi. I'd never seen him perform. I'd never paid much attention to him since I have no kids and I'm too old to have grown up with his songs. Until five minutes ago (thank you YouTube), I'd never heard his famous song Baby Beluga. Who doesn't love belugas? They're always smiling and Raffi's tune is a happy one. No wonder it's such a famous song.

Raffi is now 60 years old and has transitioned away from being a children's entertainer into a children's advocate.

He has recently relocated to Salt Spring Island from Mayne Island where he is intent on opening a Centre for Child Honouring in which the principles and covenant (Spirit of One campaign) for honouring children you can read about off his website.

His hope is that child honouring principles will infiltrate our consciousness, and change our behaviour and in general be a guiding principal impacting every area of society, including corporate decision-making.

Yes, he's an idealist. But, it's a wonderful idea that's both timely and way too late if you know what I mean.

As I was sitting in the audience at ArtSpring last night listening to him, I couldn't stop thinking about the realities in our world for so many children: labour, poverty, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, and the more subtle disheartening destruction of soul that goes on through emotional abuse or neglect that takes years to overcome.

It's a journey too many of us have experienced and that can take detours requiring hard work to regain the potential that was innate; the light that we were born with, dimmed within the first six years of our lives as a result of poor parenting wrought from ignorance or outright intent to harm; cycles of neglect passed from one generation to the next. But, who teaches anyone to parent and that alone would be, I suspect, a part of his program.

So much lip service is placed on "loving children" and yet the reality of so many children's lives, universally, is in deep contradiction to that lie (We Love our Children) that we tell ourselves collectively.

I get very excited whenever a little toddler comes into the office where I work. You can really see kids' spirits more easily; as if the essence of their being is closer to the surface. You can see how special they really are; the gift that they are and you wonder how we lose sight of that so easily in how we think of ourselves and others?

By the time most people are adults, they find it difficult to admit that by the mere fact that they exist and that there will only ever be one of them, ever, on the planet, not a single other person like them, that alone makes them special. Shouldn't that thought be enough to induce wonder? Apparently not.

Raffi had a really wonderful way of describing, last night, how as he's travelled the world he knows how few adults really felt honoured as children; felt that someone saw who they really were and valued that and understood how valuable they were just because of their uniqueness which in turn would have bathed their self worth in the kind of light that leads to the igniting of potential.

You might be thinking. Ya? So what? Isn't that the way it is? Kids can be challenging. They can be a pain in the ass. It's pretty damned hard to "honour" that on a daily basis as a single parent or just a tired adult. And, that's true as well except I guess my answer is that nobody asked anyone to be a parent. The lack of consciousness that goes into the decision (if indeed it was a decision) to become parents is mind boggling. And, as it stands, our society, in spite of that reality is not set up to honour children or parents because there are few supports built into the way society is organized to support that.

That's why I think his intent is fantastic. It takes a lot of guts, self confidence and belief in what could be to put an idea out there that "sadly" will be seen by many people as "ridiculous" and "impossible".

Many people will have a reaction that will be like saying "Is he nuts?" You think that you can begin to make a difference to the point of impacting universal systems and having the premise of honouring children, respecting children, as a way of
living that infiltrates every domain of society?

Isn't it sad that it takes a children's entertainer to decide that it's a covenant worth investing in to the point that it should impact every decision we make?

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