Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners

…..Peace and kindness are contagious but must be cultivated.

This week, I pushed a student past her limit and she hit an anxiety wall.

It wasn’t the end of the world.  This student is unusually forgiving.  Mom was pleased  I’d had the temerity to push her daughter past her comfort zone.  The daughter was able to laugh about the incident and all was forgiven.

But the whole thing stayed with me:  What was my intent in pushing this anxious child?

C. Bachinger of the Spanish Riding School with instructor Rachel Bisaillon on Cecil

When training a horse if your intent is pure, the horse will forgive your mistakes. But if you come to the horse in fear or ego, there is no joy for either of you, even if the move is perfect.

Earning a child’s trust comports moral responsibility – this increases exponentially when the child has special needs. Only when you earn trust can you challenge the student to push boundaries and explore new skills and interests. At the end of the day – the motivation must come from inside the student for that skill to have  lasting effect or real meaning.

So – what is the value of an education foisted on a child?

Enter; moral ambiguity.

On one hand – education drives our society forward.  Education battles ignorance.  The pen is mightier than the sword and the information super networks have made our planet a community like never before. But our education systems are not designed to teach the values that make life worth living;  joy, curiosity, community andFullSizeRender 172 compassion.

Even that’s not true.  I attended a high school’s science fair last week and the kids were smarter,  better integrated, more tolerant and just plain nicer than my generation. Education has made  great strides in innovation, embracing different learning styles, and encouraging curiosity.

IMG_8041_2While riding my horse in the sunshine, his powerful back swinging freely creating oxytocin in my overworked and sore body, I started to untangle the role Square Peg plays in this giant education question. I had a feeling as l rode, it started to gel when I wrapped my arms around his muscular neck thanking him for a brilliant ride. I took my saddle off his warm back and this statement flowed out: Peace and kindness are contagious but must be cultivated.

Square Peg’s overarching purpose is to cultivate peace and kindness any way we can.

photo by Robyn Peters

If it’s taking a dreamy child for a ride in the kayak to tell stories while floating in the pond – or in making the time to listen to a worried parent fresh from the latest IEP or in teaching a young man working with a jumpy young horse that his kindness and patience are strengths – not weaknesses.  It’s putting a guinea pig into a baby sling and placing it on the heart of a child while she rides a horse fully 20 times her size. This is how we cultivate kindness and peace radiate them into the world.

Registering our intention as an organization means we can forgive ourselves and others for mistakes.

The Sufi poet Hafiz wrote: 

Oh how we love our beautiful rowdy prisoners….

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