Soulfulness to Inspire Us

A friend sent me this inspiring video, called Landfill Harmonics, and I’d like to share it with you. It’s about teenagers in Paraguay discovering the gift of music through instruments made from trash:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6rgkCUstaE

I am moved by the mother who says of her son, “He plays the flute with his soul” and by the son who wants to “pay back” his parents for supporting him. I am humbled by the young woman who stresses music’s connection to “the meaning of life,” and expresses heartfelt gratitude that she can be a part of it. I am impressed with the music teacher’s philosophy: “We haven’t given them fish …but taught them how to fish.” No entitled, jaded, fake, media-induced personalities here.

Does our cynical mindset allow for the kindness, genuineness and gratitude that are evident in this video? Do our hyperactive schedules leave room for the soulfulness that is exhibited here? Following are some of my thoughts on the subject from Chapter Four of my book, Ships Without a Shore: America’s Undernurtured Children:

Today’s educational approach neglects the state of a child’s soul on two levels. First, rather than giving the child a set of truths to believe in and standards to live up to, it arms the child with cynicism and ‘openness.’ … Second, rather than nurture the child’s natural curiousity and desire to play, it imposes upon young children so hectic and goal oriented an existence as to leave no room for daydreaming and exploration.

For much needed relaxation, children and teenagers collapse in front of the TV, computer or play station, the now defining features of ‘homelife.’ … They stare at the screen wherein the inanity, violence, and doomsday sociopolitical messages are anything but reassuring. From doing to staring, from staring to doing. There is little room in this scenario for idle contentment, playful creativity and the passionate pursuit of interests.

Children today face this irony: They are taught to believe in nothing higher than the self … and yet they are given no time for self-discovery. They are so laden with activities and spend so much time in institutions or in the company of electronic counterparts that they are left with an emptiness if they are left alone. Is it possible that we are bringing up a generation of empty souls–too busy to think deeply about anything, too skeptical to believe deeply in anything, too scarred by unmet needs for nurturing to love with a full heart?

In the spirit of the season, here’s to heart and soul.