For as long as I can remember I have had a craving to do things that are new and difficult. Adapt and overcome has been my mantra for all of my life. I have little to no interest in anything predictable. I am always hopeful. That might explain why I enjoy working with foster kids so much. After nine years and several thousand different kids I have gotten to know, I think one new truth has been revealed to me.
Simply put, “Without hope, life isn’t worth much.”
Hopelessness is rampant in the world today and we see the devastating effects all around us. I meet kids every day who don’t know what it means to be hopeful and frankly I don’t blame them for feeling that way. In those moments when I hear the desperation in their voices, I am challenged to be kind and patient and willing to listen to anything they might say. I don’t judge, I just listen and sometimes if I’m lucky we connect and something good happens to them, maybe even for the first time in their young lives.
Being hopeful was instilled in me by two amazing parents and a wonderful extended family of doers. My dad and grandfather, who I share names with, were two of the most hopeful men who ever lived. Everything they did was based on a firm belief that tomorrow was going to be better than today but only if they worked hard to make that happen. Words were never enough. Hopefulness was based on actions and seeking the greatest good for the greatest number. Selfishness was a curse to be avoided at all times. In those days, there was a moral in every story and I was always hopeful for more.
Today, belief in a moral code has been contracted to mean the opposite, as amoral is the new normal. Amoral means being unconcerned with either right or wrong. This is what leads to the disease of nihilism and hopelessness that has resulted in so many inhumane events recently. When nothing has value to the individual, that person no longer cares about right or wrong and it becomes easy to choose destructive behavior as a way of getting back at humanity for the loss of hope. Everyone needs to feel wanted and when those human connections are severed, hopelessness leads to nihilism and sometimes to death and destruction. I won’t be that surprised if some day I hear the name of one of the kids I met in foster care who lost all hope and did something very tragic. That’s going to hurt a lot because it means I failed to connect with that kid when they needed it most.
Compassion and empathy for others is the only way to bring hope to the less fortunate and that comes from each of us every day. A smile, a touch or a simple act of kindness will do more to eliminate hopelessness than any act of Congress. If we want to end the evil that comes from nihilism we all have to act in ways that contribute to the greatest good and we should start with our children. Interacting with children is fascinating to me and it fills my need for discovery. I love the unknown that comes with each new face and every new behavior. I adapt to them so they feel accepted for who they are. I expect certain things from them for their own good but I try not to judge too harshly when they struggle with my rules. Even when I have to discipline them, I still ask to be their friend.
Everything I do for these foster kids is rooted in the unconditional love I received from my family growing up. I was able to overcome whatever came along because I had a huge safety net of compassion and understanding to land on when I fell. Every child needs that net and every adult owes it to them to catch them when they fall. Nothing we will ever achieve in life will come close to the feeling that comes from helping a child. If you haven’t had that experience, I feel sorry for you because you don’t know what you’re missing and some kid somewhere could really use your help.
I sincerely believe that tomorrow will be better than today and to that end I will do my part to help each child I meet overcome their challenges and adapt to the scary world they live in right now. I will laugh with them or cry with them, I will try to teach them right from wrong and why forgiveness is so important but most of all, I will be there for them and give them a reason to hope. I can’t wait for tomorrow.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.