Editor’s Note: This is a creative piece written by fellow of The Restoration Institute and creative writer, Benjamin Case.
“Old men can make war, but it is children who make history.” – Ray Merritt
We all were once children. We all have this in common.
Do you remember being a child? Do you recall what it was like? I promise you were one, even if you have forgotten the feeling.
Once upon a time before you surrendered your imagination to adulthood, it ran rampant. Your muses were extravagant, and your mind went wild.
Have you “outgrown” your childlikeness that once allowed you to be free?
This is a litmus test—an examination of your true nature. When you think of the word “childlike,” do you look down from your grown-up high horse and see this word with batting eyelashes of condescension? Before the days of jaded adulthood where “being grown” set in and “acting your age” was a common phrase that left your lips.
If I remember rightly, one of the most famous characters in all of history said, “You must become like a child.” To what end? To inherit the goodness that defies any earthly good: immortality. We were destined for an immortal life beyond this world.
God claiming that we need to become like children?
Utterly absurd, really.
But is that not the point?
How does that sit in a world of ladylike aspirations and ignorant gentlemen? “Professional adulting” is a contrived, pre-conditioned reality aiming to mask and hide the insecurities that never existed as children.
When we were children (regardless of the hardship or trauma we faced and endured) growing up, there was a monumental sense of identity and freedom that we experienced. This freedom was ingrained in our nature—a wonderful blueprint in every living child. This innately instilled identity and freedom flowed into a life of exploration, adventure and play. Unfortunately, it deteriorated when institutionalized adults started to vacuum the wonder, dreaming and adventure out of children. Please hear me rightly. I am not here to yell at adults (I am one) but rather to chastise us in hopes of redefining the genre of adulthood to become more as we were intended to be: childlike.
The moral codes attached to adulthood—responsibility, practicality, sensibility, ownership and maturity—certainly are not bad things and are markers of maturity, yet these virtues have been manipulated and warped into a fraudulent culture of adulthood that excommunicates our childlikeness.
That’s right. Fraudulent adults.
This dangerous world we find ourselves in that worships reason and practicality (again, not bad virtues) to the detriment of imagination, exploration and dreaming has ostracized children altogether. This takes shape in countless forms. In our educational system, choosing practicality and money making vocations over exploration of the arts and creative endeavors is seen as paramount. This notion ends up sucking wonder, creativity and the process of self-discovery through “play” out of children to make them more “responsible,” raising children who believe a big paycheck, big house and big retirement fund is what produces–shall I say it–BIG HAPPINESS. It sounds ludicrous because it is ludicrous. But these are snapshots of numerous photographs lining walls of a fraudulent adult-filled darkroom.
At what age will you decide to suffocate, rip away or rid a child of their God-given nature and ability to wonder, explore, discover, create and dream? Though rhetorical in nature and, I’ll admit, a bit sassy, this question has become more of a “when” than an “‘if” question. When will these divinely constructed gifts be suffocated from children in the process of becoming adults? This seems utterly backwards. If we truly believe and take seriously the words of Jesus whom we call “the Christ,” then we, too, must see children not as “a stage of life” growing out of silliness into adulthood but a reality of living.
What if we returned to our original state of childlikeness where we continually discovered, played, explored, danced and dreamed dreams of distant lands that our own mind couldn’t even conceive of—only our imaginative hearts which led us there. In a world of fraudulent adults, may we return to the restorative reality of who we truly are–children. Children at play.