Striking the balance, between the having and the not

Last time I spoke of school-children making do without their smart-phones for periods of time while at school. As a ‘first-world problem’, the merits of this becoming mandated in schools has been hotly debated, among the older, and the younger of course. Is there one right answer that fits all circumstances, ages and personality types? Probably not.

However, we do know that going without something we desire for an extended period is good for our well-being, for our mind, body and spirit. For our physical health, mental health and for our significant relationships. Learning to delay gratification is a powerful personal discipline. Learning that what we need (to survive, to flourish) is quite different to what we want (to satisfy short-term needs to relieve discomfort or achieve pleasure).

As children, and adolescents also, immaturity can lead to poor decision-making and place such vulnerable people in harm’s way. In a cohesive society with the benefit of responsible parenting, adults ‘lend’ their wisdom and minds to keep young people safe, so as to nurture the best version of those same young people, in due course. Increasingly, as such young people approach adulthood, sensibly and intentionally, we allow them more autonomy, while maintaining a watchful eye. As the best ‘villages’ graduate young adults into the world, we know they can propagate the wisdom they have gained.

Nevertheless, not all ‘villages’ and not all parents have gained such insights, and so we do depend upon the collective wisdom of our institutions, such as schools and academic research to introduce utilitarian ways to help those who may otherwise fall through the educational cracks. Sadly, some fall through anyway, while others are caught in time.

Learning to do without sometimes needs to be taught. If we fail to do so deliberately, the age of entitlement will continue to blossom and overwhelm us. Encourage compromise, and everyone’s life can be better.

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