Protecting and trusting

I was part of a lecture this morning on risks and the internet.  My colleague presented very well with a balanced view of some of the risks while avoiding excessive panic.  There were interesting parallels with the way the waltz was condemned when it first appeared at court in London in 1816, and some comments about the time-wasting, ‘dangerous and habit-forming’ nature of novels popular with women around the same time.

I’ve mentioned the Byron report before – part of the Executive Summary states:

“Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.”

While protecting, or safeguarding children is obviously important, the Daily Mail sensationalized approach (←hilarious song, highly recommended link) to stories about risks is one I may well be arguing against for most of my professional life.  There are other risks involved in wrapping children in cotton wool; preventing them from exploring, learning and making mistakes.  We need to trust young people enough to use their developing skills in making good choices and coping with difficulties, while being approachable enough when they want help or get stuck.

I’ve already made some links to the early nineteenth century, but my main text goes back somewhat further than that:

[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I’ve been thinking about this as a summary of love, and I like the symmetry.  Love, whether for a child or for a friend will combine the enclosing protection with the more open trust.  Love does both of these at once.  The other axis balances hope and perseverance.  If we love, we hope, pray for good for that person.  But it’s not just this upward, aspirational desire – it’s also a grounded, determined, fierce persevering in the face of whatever storms may come.

I can almost visualise the diagram that demonstrates this four-fold love.  This is how God loves us, and how we are called to love one another.  Every day of the year.

(OK, I could properly visualise the diagram.)

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