Just as the morning foreshadows the day, so does the child reveal the future man it is going to be, showing all those tendencies which subsequently become distinct. A man is but an overgrown child, and generally retains in him some of the refreshing features of childhood
The child may not be the spiritual being as Wordsworth has. painted it, but it is fresh from God, and is quite innocent. We can observe its mind very easily and analyse its character. One doing so, we shall come across certain inherited dispositions, good and bad, which lie in it in a germic condition like seeds which one day would sprout up into flowers and fruits. Byron calls the child “a rose with all its sweetest leaves yet folded” Pollock says that children are “living jewels, dropped unstained from heaven.” But all the same they are the tomorrow of society and as such have imbedded in them the glory of manhood also, holding in their hands the destiny of the nation.
“Heaven lies about us in our infancy.” At that time we have not learnt to conceal our feelings or inclinations, the divine-human instincts are prominent Later on, they are covered under a veil of insincerity and convention. We could approximate to the ideal life, if we could keep up those instincts in their purity. “Return to Nature” is the modern cry, but it is impossible for us to lead a natural life unless we could have the spirit of the child in us. Most of the complexities of life arise through attempts made by children to adopt the worldly ways and acquire certain habits and traits known as accomplishments in the social code.
A man’s destiny hinges on his childhood. It is, therefore, imperative on our part to see that the child is able to retain some of his pristine innocence and purity when he grows up. The conventions and the false creeds of the world should not be grafted on his mind, so that in later years he may have some of the child’s heart left to respond to the earliest enchantment. The careers of many children have been blighted for want of proper care and training. If we want to give the child something positive, let us plant in him the seeds of those virtues which would bear only sweet fruit in life. For this nothing is so necessary as a good home and a good company. We daily come across examples of men who developed rightly under right influences and of men who went astray because none cared to preserve in them the instincts of childhood.
Not that all the instincts of a child are to be fostered. He has in him all those tendencies which would become prominent later on. So we should curb down the vicious tendencies and encourage the virtuous ones. Only we should keep him free from the contamination of the social convention as long as he is not able to form a mature judgment. Let us not teach him our so-called wisdom that will make him lose his angelic luster and become a slave to customs and the world.
If there is anything that will endure,
The eye of God because it still is pure,
It is the spirit of a little child,
Fresh from His hand, and, therefore, undefiled.
Nearer the gate of Paradise than we,
Our children breathe its airs, its angles see;
And when they pray God hears their simple prayer,
Yea, even sheathes His sword, in judgment bare.