One of the things I love about Collierville is we have kids by the score! I consider this to be a good thing as I have raised six of them, with my last son just graduating from high school. I think a lot about the future as I look at our youth at a ball field, the Town Square, the park or at church, and I am struck with wonder! These children, many of whom are causing the authority figures in their lives to lose much sleep and draining their parents’ resources, will be in just a few short years the ones leading our fair town!
It is simultaneously scary and exciting to think about. Years ago I read an amazing thing by a child psychologist, Albert E. Siegel, that put in perspective just how scary and exciting raising the next generation is. He said, “Every civilization is only 20 years away from barbarism. Twenty years is all we have to accomplish the task of civilizing the infants who are born into our midst each year. These savages know nothing of our language, our culture, our religion, our values, our customs of interpersonal relations. The infant knows nothing about communism, fascism, democracy, civil liberties, the rights of political and ethnic minorities, respect, decency, ethics, morality, conventions and customs. This barbarism must be tamed if civilization is to survive.” Twenty years! I think we tend to forget how dependent our children are on family and the adults in their lives. I think we underestimate the power of the community of people that surrounds our children.
In order for the barbarian to be civilized, they really need just three things:
• They need adults to tell them true things, not cater to their selfishness. There is an “oughtness” about the world that parents and adults must point out if our children are going to live by truth and not their whims and passions.
• They need a loving community in which they are immersed. This is perhaps the most formative influence in a child’s life. Nothing is more powerful than the family. In raising our six children, my wife and I never had a curriculum that we went by; we just sought to live a big life in front of them. Most of what they know they just absorbed and learned by imitating those around them.
• They need good models to imitate. These typically are coaches, teachers, and/or bosses.
The future is bright for our youth in Collierville because we have so many people willing to sacrifice so much to see the next generation launched into society. So much of what they will become is in the hands of parents, teachers, town leaders and those who make policy that will provide the kind of environments that produce useful people. It really does take a village to raise the next generation, and Collierville is well positioned for this great task.
– James Holland, Senior Minister St. Patrick Presbyterian Church