Saturday, 7 December 2013

I suppose I have been fortunate

because I have grown up in an extended family where it simply does not matter what the colour of your skin is.

My paternal grandfather knew all sorts of people. He lived and worked in an area which was a busy port. Ships came and went all the time. There were always sailors and officers in the streets. They came from all over the world.
He had grown up in the same area. His mother, a crofter's daughter, was one of those women who performed the role of an unofficial social worker in the days before it became a "profession" which required a university education rather than common sense. She would see people in need and do something about it. She expected her children to do the same thing - and they did. They went on doing it after her death and they expected their children to carry on the tradition and their children have expected the next generation(s) to carry on the same tradition.
When my grandparents moved to the dairy farm (their "retirement" place) they transferred their help to those in need in their new local community. My father can remember people from the local aboriginal "camp" coming to the house and being given what my grandmother could spare. He was not there often enough to make friends with the children but some of his cousins who lived at the Post Office up the road spent hours out with the local aboriginal boys. That some people did not approve of this was even more reason to do it. The three boys came to no harm and managed to learn a good many useful skills in the process.
One of my earliest memories is being swung high into the air by David Mone, a Tongan missionary my grandparents had invited home for a meal. His friendship with them continued until his death.
Other people came and went too. There was a Jewish doctor who had fled South Africa, three boys from what was then Tanganyika, an Indian who had been injured at sea - and many others as well as local people.
My grandparents never knew of Nelson Mandela but they knew about apartheid. My grandfather was an extraordinarily tolerant man but apartheid made him angry, very angry. He passed that view on to his children and his grandchildren and we have, I hope, passed it on to the next generation.
I was criticised in this morning's paper for saying I think teaching this sort of thing begins at home and by the example of your parents. The writer said the world had changed and it was now the role of schools to teach such things.
I disagree. School is only one place of learning. Real learning about such things comes from the example set by your family and what they expect you to do about it.

4 comments:

Judy Edmonds said...

I get so angry at the attitude that parents should keave it all to schools! it should start from birth, just like you said, and it certainly did when I had children.

virtualquilter said...

What are parents supposed to do if they don't pass on good habits and good manners, and teach by example how they should treat other people.

Most learning happens before school starts. If children learn nothing before they start school they will never catch up.

Miriam said...

I think children should learn this at home, but if they don't, it's up to the school to teach it.

catdownunder said...

Here it is a matter of whether they do teach it Miriam - or whether they teach a certain "politically correct" version of important issues that need to be debated because there is more than one way of thinking about an issue - and more than one might also be valid.