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By Mel White 

We are all in this together

On the Bright Side


July 18, 2020

Mel White

Going through a box of old papers, I found this poem that my mother had cut out from some newsletter and saved. No author credit, no publication credit, but an incredibly important and timely message:

Children learn what they live

If a child lives with criticism,

he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,

he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule,

he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,

he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance,

he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement,

he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise,

he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness,

he learns justice.

If a child lives with security,

he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval,

he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,

he learns to find love in the world.

Now aren't those some expressly right-on sentiments!?

It must be difficult to be bringing up children in these trying times, and I applaud the people who are doing so, especially the ones who are trying to bring up good kids by allowing them to live within the last seven suggestions in this poem.

Children learn not just from what we say to them, but from what we show them. They learn to behave like we behave; they learn to accept what we accept; they learn to find joy where we find joy. Children are open books with empty pages waiting to be written on, and we as adults hold many of the pencils that will do the writing.

Actually, adults are not all that different from the children. We too learn from those around us (i.e. other adults and children alike). If we surround ourselves with positive people, we tend to be more positive; if we live with people who show more compassion and understanding, we tend to find a willingness in ourselves to be more compassionate and patient.

If we surround ourselves with people who are open to new ideas and learning new ways to think about things, we find ourselves willing to learn more about other ways to be and think and live. If we surround ourselves with others who live love in their everyday actions, we tend to find ourselves being more loving toward others. If we surround ourselves with people who make us feel good about ourselves, it is much easier to feel good about other people.

Conversely, when we surround ourselves with people who like to cause trouble, or who like to live in chaos, or who like to belittle or denigrate everyone else, we tend to go along and pick up those kinds of traits as well. The mob mentality seems to be lurking somewhere in all of us and is just waiting for an excuse to pop up. And it seems particularly easy to fall into the gossip pit when we are surrounded by people who like to discuss – and judge – anyone and everyone else.

But we can all turn that tendency to follow the crowd into a better one, by surrounding ourselves with a better crowd (or a better mob, if you will). The choices are always there for the choosing: Do we behave and live the way we want our children (or other adults around us) to behave and live, or do we prefer to stand back and judge others? Do we live in a way that promotes a you-AND-me-world ... or a you-OR-me world? Do we surround ourselves with people who will help us live our best lives, or do we always just wish and moan that our lives could be different, better somehow?

Take a look around you and I hope you choose today to be a more positive role model for the others around you, and I hope you choose to find the help and encouragement of good mentors/teachers in your life.

We are, as they say, all in this together, and together we can make a better world for all of us. Together is, after all, the only way we will do it.

© Marilda Mel White. Mel is a local photographer and writer and co-owner of Tehachapi Treasure Trove, and she has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at


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