children are blank slates

my brother and i were discussing the innocence of children and he wrote this. its simple but maybe one of the most profound statements of my year thus far. by the way... hayden is my beautiful goddaughter (& niece).

'Every generation is a completely blank slate.
It just occurred to me today that many things do not exist in Hayden's perceptual world.

She has no idea about death, drugs, sex, burns, hate, homosexuality, abortion, cells, atoms, global warming, cancer, insanity, depression, anxiety, betrayal, religion, a perceptual higher power, war... it's no wonder kids are so happy. Maybe Adam and Eve in that garden were just children.

But if they were children, wouldn't it be abundantly predictable that those kids are gonna get into them apples...'
-paul edward


Josh said…
Yes children are blank slates, yet they are still corrupted by a sin nature. If you took two children and raised one with discipline and morals, and you took the other one and raised it without a difference between right and wrong, their would be a VAST difference. The latter would probobally end up in jail. So yes children are blank slates, but they are dark shaded slates in need of cleansing.
Anonymous said…

truly a beautiful thing!

little kiddos surely are not so cynical!

they dream the impossible dreams.

watch out superman, the laws of nature do not yet exist

they are trusting and believing

impressionate and unaware of social faux pas. They are the most completely themselves.

to be wise as i need to be and innocent and believing as a child...
MH said…
Hate to be random with you Stephen hahaa, when my sister was looking at names. If it was a boy she was going to name him, Hayden. but she had a girl & anmed her Sheridan Delioncourt(whom i love with every inch of my being)was born. She is truly amazing. you'd love her!!

Robyn xo
Sarah Noel said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jessi said…
young children and the elderly have a lot in common.

one group has yet to see it all, and the other has been there and done that. i don't know why it is, but they both share a certain kind of innocence.
deb said…
haha! so true.
Anonymous said…
They truly are blank slates. It's kind of a scary prospect: the adults in their lives can fill that slate with nearly anything they want.
Peter said…
And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3
UCFB said…
You pointed a great beauty of life, and thus reminds us the great responsibility we all have with raising children, its so sad that these days there are so many kids who never get a chance to enjoy that before being molded into the world
Anonymous said…
paul is profound, in so many situations.
Anonymous said…
So simple and so true. Great metaphor for innocence.

Meggios said…
This would make since, especially since kids are not ashamed of being naked in front of other people, just like Adam & Eve were not afraid. To add to that, maybe when they ate the apple, God made them grow up all of the sudden to teenagers & were then allowed to regenerate & prosper (like what God said they should do). In a way, maybe heaven is like never never land, where we never grow up!!!!
kris said…
to go with what meggios said:

Setting: adam, Eve and a blasted tree

"No insecurity was felt when the person who loved you was around, but in His absence, it instantly comes to the surface. In the way, Adam and Eve were naked and weren't ashamed when God was around, but the second the relationship was broken, they realized it and were ashamed...

...when the Fall happened, man started lusting, getting angry, getting jealous, coveting, stealing, lying, and cheating because, in the absence of God, he became a bad person."
- Donald Miller, Searching For God Knows What, chapter five: NAKED

This Donald guy is something else.
micah said…
when i met you in cleveland last week you told me to comment and here's my response to this haha..

I do sometimes wish I could go back to the childlike innocence I once posessed, yet there are some values and experiences I've had I would never want to trade. I wish I could change some things about my upbringing, the morals I've been taught, the mindset I've had.
Even Christ realized the need for our childlike innocence in Matthew as Peter noted earlier and that's part of why it's important, but it's just nice to go back to a place where gays aren't hated, where abortion isn't a reason to hate your neighbor, where millions of people aren't dying of AIDS. That would be very nice indeed. (of course we can't ignore these problems either)
Jen said…
Peter beat me to it. But I'll say it anyway. :) Perhaps that is why Jesus said only those who came as little children could see the kingdom of God.

I'd actually contemplated this recently too while watching my friends little ones... isn't it interesting how children are so open, so honest with how they feel and what they think? Innocent, yet still giving glimpses of the willful sin nature. But also so unafraid to show love and joy.

Maybe that's why some people hate kids... they can't stand being around such raw honesty and pure emotion. Reminds them too much of themselves...

Anyway, you got me thinking with this post... very profound. Thanks for sharing.
sj. said…
beautiful :)

i work teaching kindergarten and after reading this post, i find that i have to reevaluate how and what i teach these kids and how is my life and words impacting them. what am i filling their slate with.

good quote. thank you for posting it.
sj. said…
and perhaps there's a kid in all of us that desires the world be a perfect place as it was when we were children. sadly growing up we realize how imperfect the world is. you're probably right to say adam and eve were as children.. hmm.. long train of thought for that.. :)

be blessed friend stephen.
meganm said…
tabula rosa
Anonymous said…
I greatly enjoyed the description of your niece's "perceptual world."
I also thought it was extremely relevant to the question of faith.

My readings about philosophy have also included a fair amount of
discussion of the problem of evil, which you alluded to somewhat in
what you wrote me. As you noted, Hayden (and for the purposes of the
discussion, children as a generalized group) know very little of the
world. Even to those that have been exposed to particular hardship or
joy have very little basis for comparison. To a child raised in a
poverty-stricken country, having a stuffed animal or toothbrush may be
the ultimate joy, when a child raised in privilege might completely
overlook or even spurn the same gift. These perspectives are all
essentially "rational," based on the set of criteria the child has to
base his or her's evaluations on. Right is clearly defined, wrong is
clearly defined, and borders are easily distinguished. As you learn
more and gain more experiences, your perspective broadens and clear
distinction becomes a much more involved endeavor, at least when
considering relatively small issues in the grand scheme of things.
It's much like looking at a map to find your way: on a city map, it
isn't difficult to find your way from point A to point B: all streets
are clearly visible. Increase your scale to statewide and it becomes
more difficult: large streets and highways still exist to get you in
the right general area, but the small streets connecting highways
suddenly no longer exist. What appears to be a continuous route to
where you want to be may have a tiny, invisible, and yet incredibly
significant break, and suddenly your trip becomes much more

Faith is much the same way. As a child in faith, you view everything
from a new perspective. Because you're a child, things are considered
on a very basic level: most likely, you apply it to the things
immediately applicable, like the way you treat the people you interact
with regularly, or obvious behaviors like violence or promiscuity. As
time progresses and you gain familiarity with your immediate
surroundings, you either become content with that limited perspective,
or you begin considering ways to get from your home of faith to less
immediately related issues, such as political beliefs or evaluations
of scientific issues. When you take longer trips like this, losing
your way becomes a much greater risk, because you're forced to travel
through areas you're not familiar with in the same way you're familiar
with the smaller area you're coming from. It's even possible to
become so lost that you no longer see a way back to your starting

At that point, there are basically two options: you give up going back
home, or you find a way back to familiar territory, whether it's all
the way back to where you started or some other point along the way.
Where you return to depends entirely on what wilderness you ended up
lost in, and once you've found your way, you have the choice of
whether to continue your journey or to return home.

To carry the metaphor in a slightly different direction, the new
places and experiences you find along the way will cause you to
reevaluate the places you've been: some things that seem true in the
small town of a child's perspective are wholly false when considered
on a larger perspective. A rich, spoiled child is as such because the
limited world he is exposed to revolves largely around him. Place
that child in a world larger than the small, sheltered one his parents
create, and suddenly he realizes that the former truth of his own
importance is no longer true. Or, alternatively, he is strong-willed
enough to mold the new world he's found around him.

Faith, then, is a home, a starting point for everything else.

On a personal level, all of these thoughts give me hope. The fact
that I have forgotten the way back to where I started from doesn't
mean that the way doesn't exist, nor does it mean that that place was
wrong or nonexistent to begin with. It also provides hope because
trying to justify my actions and beliefs on the basis of my faith is,
I believe, imperative to a legitimate Christian walk. So yes, I may
get lost on occasion, and there's always the possibility that the way
to where I was trying to get does not exist, but I can take comfort in
the fact that I tried to find the way.

Anonymous said…
wow, this says a lot.

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