Editorial

Let’s arm children with important virtues and our blessings

  It is our duty as parents to instill values in our children that will guide them as they grow up and walk this life’s journey on their own. Sometimes

  • PublishedJanuary 14, 2013

 

It is our duty as parents to instill values in our children that will guide them as they grow up and walk this life’s journey on their own. Sometimes we succeed and other times we fail miserably, and not for want of trying. Sometimes we want our children to follow certain paths in life and when they don’t we get disappointed. How I wish my daughter who writes “Stuff Learnt” could take over this magazine, but that’s highly unlikely – at least for now. She has followed another path in her life, a decision I respect and bless her for.

The Bible tells us to bring up children with values they will not depart from when they grow up. We should also let our children pursue their own lives with our blessings when they come of age. Even when we feel disappointed we must never fail to give our blessings to our children. We must also never cease from giving them good advice, even when they don’t seem to heed it.

As a mother of three adult children, I know it’s my duty to pass on the wisdom I have gained over the years to them in spite of the many, “Mum… I know…” Yes you know, but you can always know some more, I remind them. Sometimes you have to speak in parables (you remember Jesus’ teachings) for your children to listen and hear. At this time when we celebrate another New Year and take time to reflect on our lives and make plans for this year, I want to share this Burmese folktale, not just with my children, but with all parents and young adults wherever they are. It is loaded with important life’s virtues, which our children and ourselves need to be reminded of all the time.

Naing was preparing to leave home and make his own way into the world.

This decision disappointed his father who had anticipated his son becoming his partner in the family puppet-making business. But Naing’s father gave him a proper send-off and presented him with four special wooden puppets.

“My son, rely on these treasured puppets should you encounter trouble. Each one represents a virtue you will need in life,” his father explained. “This king represents Knowledge; this green ogre, Strength. For Wisdom, look to the sorcerer and for Goodness, turn to the hermit.”

“Thank you, Father. I will cherish them always.”

“Travel well, my beloved son. And remember: Strength and knowledge must always serve wisdom and goodness.”

Naing set off through the jungle. He walked for an entire day until he came upon a banyan tree in a clearing. “This looks like a good place to spend the night.

What do you think?” he jokingly asked the king puppet. The puppet grew large and

animated. “Observe your surroundings carefully,” warned the puppet, “and you will soon have your answer.”

That’s when Naing noticed the large tracks of a tiger pressed into the ground. His father was right! The puppets really could help him! That night Naing slept high in the banyan tree instead of beneath it, and the prowling tiger never knew he was there.

The next morning, the young man continued his journey until he reached the mountains. He noticed a caravan of merchants on the road who were traveling to the city, their wagons bulging with finest goods from all over the land.

“I wish I could be as wealthy as those merchants.” Half-jokingly he asked the ogre puppet, “How can riches like theirs be mine?” The ogre swelled to a great size and spoke. “When you have strength, you can have whatever you want.” Then the ogre stomped his feet and the mountains began shaking. Huge boulders thundered towards the caravan. The terrified merchants abandoned their wagons and fled for their lives. The ogre cleared the boulders from the road and hitched the wagons together, claiming the abandoned bounty for Naing.

This was not how Naing wanted to acquire such riches, but he wasn’t willing to forgo them either. So he drove his “new” caravan towards the city. And he wondered what to do once he got there.

With a wave of his wand, the sorcerer puppet came to life and whisked Naing away on a magical journey through the valleys and mountains. “To protect your wealth, you must learn the ways of nature.” He showed Naing where the most fertile

farmland was and where precious gems and metals could be mined.

Naing was thrilled. “I can help so many people now that I know this!” “But knowing this gives you power,” the sorcerer chided. “Keep these secrets to yourself and you will become the wealthiest man in the whole land.”

Well, thought Naing, why not? Isn’t this what he had dreamed about when he left home? With the periodic assistance of the three puppets, Naing remained a prosperous merchant and substantial landowner. But something felt wrong; something was missing.

“Why am I so miserable?” wailed Naing one day. ‘Excuse me,” whispered the hermit puppet. Naing continued to ponder his distress. “ I said excuse me.” Much time had passed since the hermit last spoke and Naing had completely forgotten him.

“Hermit, did you say something?” “Yes, Naing. I know the reason for your misery.”

“You do?” “Of course, my friend.” And the quiet hermit came to his side for the first time. “You believe that wealth and material things bring fulfillment. But what you do with what you have is the true indication of your wealth. Genuine happiness stems from goodness.” The king puppet joined the discussion. “Your father once told you that strength and knowledge must always serve wisdom and goodness. You must have forgotten the value of his words.”

“You are right,” Naing said. “Oh, hermit! I’m so sorry I never turned to you before. I won’t forget you again.” Since that day, Naing shared his wealth with others. And though he frequently had to rely on strength and knowledge to accomplish his goals, he made sure that wisdom and goodness guided all his actions.

Happy New Year everyone!

 emathu@parents.co.ke

This was not how Naing wanted to acquire such riches, but he wasn’t willing to forgo them either. So he drove his “new” caravan towards the city. And he wondered what to do once he got there.

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