[In 1951] we were also told that the Russians could be parachuting from planes over our town at any time. These were the same Russians that my uncles had fought alongside only a few years earlier. Now they had become monsters who were coming to slit our throats and incinerate us. It seemed peculiar. Living under a cloud of fear like this robs a child of his spirit. It's one thing to be afraid when someone's holding a shotgun on you, but it's another thing to be afraid of something that's just not quite real.
Education has for its object the formation of character. To curb restive propensities, to awaken dormant sentiments, to strengthen the perceptions, and cultivate the tastes, to encourage this feeling and repress that, so as finally to develop the child into a man of well proportioned and harmonious nature, this is alike the aim of parent and teacher.
When I tell children that they are far too dependent on their gizmos, they do not deny it. But they really don't care. This is their real life - texting about trivial things; listening to numbing music on their private headphones. The machines block everything out - you create your own little trivial world.
And of course these days I feel like there is a nation of us - displaced southerners and children of the working class. We listen to Steve Earle, Mary J. Blige, and k. d. lang. We devour paperback novels and tell evil mean stories, value stubbornness above patience and a sense of humor more than a college education. We claim our heritage with a full appreciation of how often it has been disdained. And let me promise you, you do not want to make us angry.
When I was a child I asked my mother what homosexuality was about and she said - and this was 100 years ago in Germany and she was very open-minded - 'It's like hair color. It's nothing. Some people are blond and some people have dark hair. It's not a subject. ' This was a very healthy attitude.
Children have always brought a tremendous amount of joy to me and I feel that if you can catch them at a young age you can really change a life. There are a lot of studies that show that one act of kindness to these children has a 40% chance of making that child have a completely different outcome in their life. What you hope is that you can get a kid to believe in something and to believe in themselves.
They are inherently good - the bad reactions aren't basic. Every human being is a child of God and has more good in him than evil - but circumstances and associates can step up the bad and reduce the good. I've got great faith in the essential fairness and decency - you may say goodness - of the human being.