the here-and-now you

Your worth has nothing to do with what you will become. I grew up watching Mister Rogers and had the chance to see him again when I saw the movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Mister Rogers unequivocally made children feel appreciated, but people can be appreciated for all sorts of reasons. The movie notes that, “In this country, children are appreciated for what they will be.” It’s more true than not, isn’t it? We say we should invest in children because they’re the future leaders and because they will be the next generation responsible for our planet and because we never know which child is destined to become the next great president or musician. All of it is true – we are training up our children to be the next leaders, to care well for our planet, and we certainly don’t know which of the little hands we hold will be the next to change the world. Those things aren’t meaningless but they aren’t the main reasons we should invest into children. Everyone has the tendency to appreciate other people for who they will become or what they will do and we often appreciate or give value to children for who they will become in the future. Instead, can we appreciate them for who they are now, no strings attached, not looking ahead to what they will offer or the greatness they will contribute? Their future potential is deeply valuable and worthy of investment but it is not their worth. We look forward with great expectation to what these little twinkling eyes will one day become, but their future self is not why we love them now. We love them because they are important as the humans they are now, just as every human is important as they are. We can encourage and invest and cheer each other on so we do reach our potential (as we should) while at the same time acknowledging the innate value and importance that remains no matter what the future has for us. We push each other on toward the best we can be, not because we love only that future version but because we love the here-and-now version.

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We look forward with great expectation to what these little twinkling eyes will one day become, but their future self is not why we love them now. We love them because they are important as the humans they are now, just as every human is important as they are.

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