A small news headline in The Korea Times caught my eye recently. “Boy, 10, offers lesson in life”, it said. A third grade boy in South Korea had been given a homework handout showing a malnourished boy dressed in tattered clothing eating breadcrumbs off the floor.
His assignment was to “Think about how happy you are while observing this photograph (of the poor boy) for five minutes”.
Image credit: The Korea Times
Tears pierced my eyes when I read the boy’s answer. And this is the verbatim quote: “I think it’s not right to feel happy comparing myself to others’ pains. We need to solve their pains together, so that we all can live happily.”
All it takes is this simple insight from a mere 10-year-old to put everyone in their place. Indeed what message are we sending our children by suggesting that we rejoice in the misery of others, when we should be instilling empathy, kindness and compassion in them.
Maybe it’s time to start thinking about what values we’re teaching our kids.