For his ninth birthday a couple of weeks ago, our grandson wanted a laser-tag party. That seems to be the de riguer for little boys’ birthday parties.
While watching the kids play laser tag, our son told me that at a previous birthday party, the partiers had huge water guns (SuperSoakers) with a pump like a shotgun. They filled their guns and went after one another like warriors blasting away at one another.
What was interesting about the scene was that many of the children at this party were apologizing after they blasted their playmate with water:
Whoosh in the face! followed by, “I’m sorry Jack.”
Woosh to the back of the head, in the ear! followed by, “I’m sorry Ed,”
…and on it went…
As I listened to the story, I was wondering if these youngsters really were sorry. Did they really have empathy for the person they blasted with water, or were they truly the warrior princes they appeared to be who had been taught to reflexively apologize?
Similarly, when our students become civically engaged as a requirement, do they really care about the people with whom they work and develop values that will motivate them to address macro-structural issues that might cause hardships in communities?
Well, we don’t know the answers to my questions, but if given a choice, I would choose these habits of courtesy and service and hope that with practice over time, there will be an emotional connection to the words and the service and become “habits of the heart.”