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Childhood

Childhood

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"A person is obligated to say: The entire world was created for my sake." (Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a).

To a child, this is obvious fact. He or she is, and is the center and focus of all. Father and mother and the rest of the universe exist merely to cater to his needs.

The undesirable aspects of such an attitude are self-evident, and weeding out the negative in man's base instincts is what education is all about. But the egocentric instinct that the child exemplifies has a positive side as well. A child has no problem dealing with an insignificance of self in face of humanity's billions and the vastness of the universe. A child is utterly convinced that his or her existence has meaning and his/her deeds have consequence.

This is the child in ourselves that we must learn to cultivate: the conviction that our every thought and deed is of real, even global, significance.

We know that a sneeze in New Jersey can cause a thunderstorm in China. Can we say the same of the social universe? Can a single act, word or thought on our part resound in billions of lives?

Ask your child. Or the child in you.

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