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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 581)...

    I am a father to a beautiful 4 month old girl. As she grows, I want her to learn what she can from her schools, while at the same time I want her to be able to look through the eyes of someone who has had the cultural blindfold removed. I am in a unique situation as I have a chance to begin from infancy to teach someone a "new" old idea, and I really don't want to screw it up. Could you give some advice on when to begin teaching and how much to teach at a time?

    ...and the response:

    It's not a matter of deliberate teaching. People don't sit down and deliberately teach their children that the world was made for man and man was made to conquer and rule it. They don't sit down and deliberately teach their children that humans belong to an order of being that is separate from the rest of the living community; rather, they reflect and reinforce these ideas in thousands of inadvertent utterances and actions.

    As a parent, you have to be aware that your child is receiving these messages, and you have to be sure that you're not inadvertently reinforcing them. But mainly it's the case that if YOU see the world differently, then your child will see it differently. Her vision will be shaped by EVERYTHING you say and do, not just by the deliberate declarations you make to her.

    The same is true of the acquisition of all attitudes. If you are at heart a racist, then your daughter will grow up to be at heart a racist--even if you argue vehemently against racism in your deliberate declarations to her. If you are a prude, then your daughter will grown up to be a prude--even if you argue vehemently against prudery in your deliberate declarations to her. It isn't so much what you SAY that matters but rather what you really ARE.


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