Last night, my family and I were sitting around the table with our close friends at a small “posada” (Christmas party) in their home, and the subject of corruption came up in connection with the new energy reform that was just passed by the congress here in Mexico. Monetary exploitation is a hot button issue because it is evident throughout all levels of society, especially so with the politicians and labor unions. Citizens expect it. They’re always looking for the “bite” or the “take”. They see it with the police for a common traffic citation, and they hear about it in the news when a politician gets away with millions, frequently without going to prison. Although the conversations people have between family members and close friends are frequently charged with remarks about how terrible corruption is, its collateral damage, and ways to stop it with force, it's quite likely that little is mentioned about when and where it begins.
Such a discussion, not only in family homes but throughout Mexican society, is seriously needed. It would help us to recognize that corruption begins in childhood. Children emulate what they see, what they are taught, and what they are forced to carry out. For example, Michael Ventura, a social commentator, said it so wisely, “When our children see you owned, then they are not your children anymore, they are the children of what owns you.” Thus, it follows that if parents are owned by lies and corruption, then their progeny become the children of lies and corruption, like the boy with the weapon in the photo above.
However, if parents became even more aware of the roots of such dishonesty, they would have a better chance to institute its prevention at home and to ask societal leaders for help at local schools and religious institutions. There are quite a number of measures at our disposal. The first one is unconditional, parental love, such as the tenderness we see between the mother and child while nursing. Another is kindness or friendliness that is performed without any expectation of something in return. Also, compassion that is taught and carried out, sometimes quite firmly when it is necessary to stop harmful actions. And the new mindfulness programs that are just beginning in schools in the U.S., especially where children and adolescents are in danger, bring about marvelous change. Most of all, these means of preventing harm show our children that the strengths of unconditional love, kindness without expectation, integrity, and faith in our deepest nature, are their security blanket. They are what they can resource within themselves in difficult and stressful situations.
Yes, serious and informed conversations are needed about the roots of corruption. They help us to see how it begins and what to do about it with children and adolescents. Even though we’ll find corruption’s origins with parents owned by such dishonesty, we’ll see that it also comes from other sources, i.e. peers at school, ruthless elements of society, and violence on television. We must recognize that our children deserve an opportunity to live as freely and securely as possible within society, especially one where mothers and fathers use the wisdom of loving kindness and unconditional love as the principal forces for preventing corruption from taking hold. When this is the case, we see results like the boy happily smiling in the photo above. As parents, we just have to decide what we want for our children and make it so.