As early as I can remember from schooling, there was a widely known rule. If you're going to bring a treat, then you have to have enough for everyone. This included everything from gum to cupcakes to birthday invitations. Now, I'm not sure the validity of the birthday invitations requirement, but the others were a good life lesson. Share. Share your threats. Share your toys. Share your swing set. Anyone who didn't encourage their child to share, whether parent or teacher, was viewed as a terrible influence.
So what happened? The teaching instilled in us as children (which, based on kids sharing, works) transforms into the selfishness of adulthood. "It's my money! It's my success! I'm not sharing!" Sentiments such as these are vilified in childhood and glorified in adulthood. The worst part is it's believed. We really think it's our money and success. Yet, just like our parents most likely provided the gum, cupcakes, and birthday invitations, so too did our money and success (or at least the opportunity to obtain them) come from our parents or at least our sitz im leben.
Have you ever heard a leader in front of his people (sports team, army, whatever) saying "Every man for himself! If one man falls leave him behind! Keep going, you can do it be yourself!" No, not at all. There is always the plural. "All for one and one for all!" and variations of it are what is shouted as they rush into battle. Even for myself with my low emotional response to many things, I cannot help but be roused by such speeches. Yet there are so any who demand we go through life alone, at least in the western individualized society. What we need to remember is we are all in this together. Whether it is the butterfly effect or something much more direct, our six degrees of separation show that we all affect each other. We are all on this floating blue marble together. As Brian Zahnd reflected on his pilgrimmage on the Camino de Santiago, "the pilgrims seem to understand we're all in this journey together and kindness goes a long way." As I replied, that's one of the biggest lessons I'm trying to instill in my son. We're all in this together. It's not every man for himself. This education will continue past elementary, middle, and high school. I will attempt to remind him long into the future.