I recently returned from a fun filled family vacation, which included a cruise throughout the Caribbean. While we experienced sun and relaxation, my granddaughter was experiencing her own fun in the cruise ship’s kid’s program. She loved going to ‘play with the kids’ as she called it, and spent the majority of each day there.
Since most of the passengers were Latino, it came as no surprise that the kids in the children’s program were Latino as well. What also became apparent was that while the teachers in the kids program were bilingual, my granddaughter was the only child in the kid’s program that spoke English. I wondered how this was going to impact my granddaughter’s experience in the program. I was hoping that by the end of the week, she would perhaps have learned some Spanish words or phrases. That was not the case.
In lieu of learning Spanish, my granddaughter experienced the universal language of love. While the children in the program couldn’t speak English, they communicated through the language of touch. They hugged and held hands with one another, laughing and smiling as they played. It was so touching to witness how they accepted one another, playing together and enjoying one another’s company without speaking to one another. Children have the uncanny ability to accept total strangers the way they are, expecting nothing in return. Whatever differences exist aren’t important, because they live in a world of love and acceptance.
As I left the kid’s program, I was saddened by the thought of how, as adults, we’ve lost that ability to accept differences. When adults encounter someone with differences to which we are unwilling to relate or accept, we put up a wall of tolerance. Tolerance is a way to place people on a temporary hold, until they’ve earned our approval. It provides us the flexibility to resist or flee situations when our level of discomfort increases or our values begin to feel threatened. The idea of holding hands, hugging or spending the day with a total stranger with whom we cannot verbally communicate would scare the dickens out of most adults.
As I stepped onto the elevator taking me back down to the lower decks, it hit me. What I had just witnessed in the kid’s program was what I would experience in Heaven. Then I smiled.