Creating a Community for Compassion

The beginning of each new school year offers the sweet opportunity to renew our understanding of and commitment to the goals of The Meher Schools. Foremost among those goals is to instill in our children the values of cooperation, unity, creative endeavor, mutual respect, love, and service to life.

There are many ways in which we, as adults, can aid the processes of growth in our children and in ourselves. One of the most important is to always keep a positive attitude toward every child, no matter what extremes of behavior they may temporarily display. This is a central principle of our school—in fact, it is what makes our work possible. We encourage this approach for all our adults—teachers, staff, and parents. And we work to instill it in all the children. We work to create a community of children and adults who will support the growth of all children. Most important, we try to ensure that our every interaction concerning the children flows from love, not from fear.

Children come to us with a variety of experiences in life which have created a variety of behaviors. Some children are intentionally or unintentionally "mean" or hurtful; some can't control themselves at all times. Some children have learned, somewhere along the line, to express themselves through physical aggression. Among the values children learn at our school are the lessons of kindness, tolerance, understanding, and compassion. The challenge to us as adults is to model and reinforce those lessons of positive behavior—not only with our children, but with each other and with each other's children. All our children are in the process of learning, as are we. They are learning to accept each other's shortcomings and failures as well as to celebrate each other's achievements. We try to do the same by including all our children in our loving circle.

It is astonishing how children respond to an atmosphere of love.

Experience has demonstrated time and again that a positive approach, though it may take time, nurtures the processes of maturity. The strongest force of all is love, and it is only love that can bring about lasting change. Often the most "difficult" children are the ones who bring forth the greatest resources of love from the entire group. Often, they are the ones with the greatest potential for transformation, a potential that can energize us all. And often, it is those "intractable" ones who go on to become our great artists, scientists, and leaders.

My wish for us all, as a community of teachers and parents and children, is that we renew our efforts to tolerate the difficult learning of all our children, celebrate their growth, and support each other's children as though they were our own. I would ask that we all join together in the service of all the children.