Children and Our Nation

I have spent years searching for a universal truth across cultures and nations – something that could bind us all together, to help understand one another. The one that surfaced and remained in the forefront is the drive to protect our babies, our offspring. The intense, biologically-based bond to our children is one that transcends time, space, and culture. The deep feeling of utter devastation and fear that one feels when they realize they can’t protect their children from harm is not only intense, but I believe universal.

It is tremendously sad to me that it is through communal suffering that we are most connected but it is necessary to understand why and how this matters.

In International activities, it matters because it is a foundation upon which we can build connections – a way to understand others very different than us. It allows us to see those who think and act in ways we don’t as humans, similar at our core. Ultimately, it is why in war, opposing sides will at times help another because human suffering at the personal level is typically impossible to ignore. The suffering of a child is almost always difficult to accept.

I say ‘almost’ because there are people in this world who are not affected by these generally universal feelings of child and human protection. And this is why we have laws.

Laws are not meant to tell you how to live your life or to control you – they are used to ensure the protection of people who might be hurt by those without a personal compass for inflicting pain on others.

In psychology, it was important to teach students to clarify between a difference of opinion and harm. It is the same in politics. Differences in opinion, background, belief, understanding, preference, etc. involve living one’s life in a manner fit for them. Harm is when those differences are used to justify hurting another person.

Interpreting a law to the most extreme extent which ultimately results in separating innocent children from their parents is harm. It is not merely an interpretation of a law which binds the administration because that law is written to have options. Separating children, many of whom had no choice or knowledge of what was happening, disrupts the natural development of attachment bonds. For those who are not psychologists, this may seem like a minor issue. It is not. Disrupting attachment, especially under 3 years old, can have major life-long implications. This situation is not the children’s fault and imputing this level of emotional trauma on them cannot be tolerated.

But now the bigger issue….to my earlier point….if we are a nation willing to close our eyes and allow harm, the bad news is that it means there is more to come. This was a test to see how the country and how the world would react. It was a test of congress. It was a test of power. It was a test of time. It was a test of the courts. And on every measure, we failed because our system provides far more power and a far more rapid response ability to our authorities than most realized. When someone doesn’t believe in a system, it can be a refreshing reframe. It can also be a devastating use of power to control and harm others.


Be clear…this child separation activity was a very big deal.


Photo by Annie Spratt, Aaron Burden

Kids, Inspiration, Action

I always like having students on my teams – why? Simply put: They have great ideas.

Kids aren’t hindered by the same fears as adults. They frankly don’t know what they aren’t supposed to know. They don’t know they should wait to speak. They don’t know that they should stifle their imaginations. They don’t know that they need to check the realistic possibility of success of their idea before sharing it. They don’t run down the rabbit hole of asking every possible question before declaring success.

Sure, they are also lacking experience, which oftentimes hinders them from being able to carry out all of their ideas – but that’s why we have adults. It’s a good thing the world still needs us or I’m pretty sure the next generation would put us out to pasture!

So what is the formula for ultimate success – across generations – and for our nation? We should embrace and encourage the energy and idea generation of our youth. We should do so because a) they need support and mentorship, b) they are the ones who will run the world when we are getting older, but most importantly, because c) they are tremendous thinkers!

Adults in their mid-range of working (typically 35-55) are in the prime space of energy, hunger for rising and achieving, and ready to take on many tasks at once. These individuals should be the great connectors from our youth to our most experienced workers. Our older workers and retirees need to help carry the flag. Help us see the vision of the future, coach and mentor us on those aspects of their generation that worked and why but also what didn’t and help us see how we can improve these aspects.

Every generation has a purpose – the nation that recognizes, respects, and promotes these differences of thoughts, views, and experiences will be the one that maximizes innovation and does so with efficiency!


Jobs of the Future: Arts Education is a Must

  We don’t have a job shortage, we have a job-mismatch problem.

In America, we have a habit of being a reactive, rather than a proactive nation and this tendency is especially problematic in education. If we are preparing our students for jobs that existed yesterday, we are developing obsolete workers. If we teach our students to be ready for today, we will predictably have many adults without the skills needed to get jobs in the future. This is a predictable, and therefore addressable, problem. In this arena, there are many points to consider but this article focuses on one competency: the ability to see how information connects across time and space and consequently, new ways to look at old data.

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses — especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo daVinci

If we develop the mind to think of information as unconnected pieces of data, it is no wonder that we will create adults who interpret situations and solve problems using only one area of knowledge. The result will be what we call stove-piped solutions, or products that deal with one issue at a time. This is not only inefficient but also ineffective.

Jobs of the future will require cognitive agility and creative problem solving skills…everything else will be automated.

We may not like it. We may not wish it to be true. We can regulate it. But it will still happen. Automation of basic tasks is happening because businesses want to drive toward the most efficient processes and maximize innovation.

In the next generation job market, employers will be looking for humans who can do what computers can’t.

Students will not need to memorize information because they can access it anywhere, anytime. They will not need to calculate by hand because the computer will do it for them. They will not even need to aggregate or visualize data because the computer will do that too. Instead, future workers will need to interpret sums of data across structures. They will need to develop news ways to look at old problems. They will need to operate in multi-disciplinary teams and they will need to know how to provide the meta-vision to others in a succinct, clear, single visual message.

All roads lead to the need to include arts education as a significant part of learning for the future.

Art, whether it be visual or auditory (music), helps develop the brain in ways other subjects do not. It affects how much information load the brain can take in, it affects the arousal level of the brain to improve processing speed, and it adds a layer of interpretation and communication to learning experiences not otherwise attainable. In short, arts education will be one of the primary differentiators not only at the individual level for job readiness but also at the national level as it will change the way our country addresses our societal and world-level problems.

To evolve as a nation, we must recognize the necessity of arts education and ensure that we support our youngest citizens in becoming the next generation creative, agile workforce.

Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash