Who stole the innocence?~ it seems that every bit of news these days uncovers a new scandal, a terrible lie or a gross misconduct by a person of authority. It is as though virtue and authority are melting away in a puff of disillusionment. Our only hope lives in the children. Can we please leave them uncorrupted?
As my little girl grows up, I watch with quiet desperation how her innocence begins to recede to the background. The old simple jokes that made her laugh again and again are now silly, the complete freedom with which she skipped all over the world and its problems is beginning to allow bits of worry into her magical world. Questions about the state of the world arise causing a frown to form on her previously every radiant and smiling face. Nothing prepares a parent for the inevitable letting go of their child’s innocence. We hold on to it desperately, we pray that the hugs will last longer, that the laughter will ring louder and that worry will keep its fangs away from our babies.
One of the rewards of going into far away parts of China is meeting innocence. Innocence lives her sister simplicity with the natural people of this world. My friend who travelled with me on this trip has amazingly beautiful and extremely curly hair and at the sight of it a crowd of sweet women gathered and followed us around with the single wish of touching my friend’s hair. Moments like this make you have hope again for our world and its war of differences.
There are still remote places in China where white people are rarely seen and can still cause quite a reaction from the locals. One of my travel companions was blonde (considered very strange and alien in China) and she was almost certain to draw a shriek from children in each village we set foot in along our journey into the heart of Honghe’s isolated regions. It did not help that she spoke fluent Mandarin, which caused the children to believe that she must be some sort of extra-terrestrial creature of the dangerous sort.
I loved the fact that such innocence still existed and that we were able to meet it first hand before the whole world turns into a cultural mixed soup.
innocence has many faces~ girls in Mushan village~ Yunnan
Have you ever noticed how children can change expressions so fast without being hung up on the effects of each emotion they experience? We adults tend to carry baggage through our emotions that causes us to often hold grudges, feel anger, thoughts of contempt, attachment, jealousy, animosity… the list goes on. When children fight, they are able to make up in a split second and whilst we are still wondering how to solve the problem they are already hugging and running off to play again.
After 5 days of being around these beautiful people in the mountains of Yunnan’s Honghe area, my two traveling companions and I realized that we had not seen a single other foreigner around since our arrival, and we knew that we and our ways must appear so strange to the locals. I had brought a small polaroid camera with me to offer small photos as gifts, and to my utter surprise, most of the older people had no idea that the photos were theirs. They would look at the photo after taking it from me, look at, smile and give it back wondering why I was showing them these people printed on the paper. It was so brilliant and such a great privilege to witness a culture still separated from modernism and its grip.
Don’t you sometimes wish that our children could live in their age of innocence a bit longer? To stay protected from sarcasm a few more years? To remain connected to what created them a little while longer?
Innocence is an essence that always rises in our contemplation of the truth of small children. The word ‘innocence’ is usually defined by and associated with lack of guilt or simplicity due to the absence of worldly knowledge and sophistication. But while looking at a child, is that really what makes them radiate innocence? Or is it perhaps their connection to that which is clean pure and in itself innocent. Could it be that one day as they grow older they are forced to disconnect and replace that innocence with more worldly qualities like trickery and games that can attach themselves to guilt and what is defined as sophistication? And I wonder if it not natural to keep this innocence that makes them closer to what a human is meant to be like…