This week I experienced how much living our core-values affects positive change via the 'ripple-effect', perhaps even more than if we were shouting center-stage as the guru-leader of a huge 'tribe'. I know I've mentioned our 'Lost Boys' to some who've known me for a while, but many don't know the back-story, which is important to give context to the events of this weekend.
During the 1990's when my sons were in middle school and high school, they would bring home friends; kind of like some kids bring home stray dogs and cats. These ‘Lost Boys’ came from some pretty dis-functional families, some downright abusive and most neglectful beyond my comprehension. We live in Silicon Valley, in the San Francisco Bay Area, quite near to Stanford University, where education, achievement, and material success, is often prioritized above compassion/empathy, support, and love. We live in a small two-bedroom/one bath home, and our two boys shared their room with the boys who lived with us, sometimes for days, weeks, months, and in a couple cases, even years.
For most of these boys, eating a family dinner every night, sitting at a table, with the TV off, was a new experience. Having a conversation with adults, and having their participation and ideas respected and really heard, was also a new experience for many. Most of these kids were struggling in school, not because they weren’t intelligent, but because they were dealing with so many issues in their lives that weren’t being addressed in their families.
These are the kids who slip through the cracks of our school system, and our community structure. Slipping through the cracks is a very scary and slippery slope, because lurking there are all kinds of bad things that are oh, so attractive to kids whose core-values are all messed up – and almost all of the 'Lost Boys' succumbed to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, gangs, or a lifestyle of chronic underachievement or behavioral problems.
My boys are now twenty-seven and thirty years old, and my husband and I are enjoying this chapter of being ‘empty-nesters’. This weekend two of the ‘Lost Boys’ showed up – not together, but separately and not even having known each other, before. They ‘showed up’ both literally, on our doorstep, and also ‘showed up’ in terms of their core-values, as compassionate ‘givers’, respectful of family and sharing/returning the love that we shared with them so many years ago. Both of these young men worked all day Saturday, doing the heavy yard work that my husband and I just haven’t had the time or energy to do, nor the budget for outsourcing as we have had in the past.
We had a family barbeque at the end of the day; all seated outside in the garden at the family table. When my husband took out his wallet to pay them for the seven hours of manual labor, they didn’t want to take the money, saying, “You are like our parents. We love you. You don’t need to pay us.”
We made them take the money, because they worked darned hard for it, work greatly appreciated, and they both needed money as much as anyone else, and probably more than many living in our affluent community.
But what WE got from this experience was worth far more than a couple hundred dollars. We got to see the legacy of love in action. We got to see how sharing our own family values so many years ago, positively affected our ‘Lost Boys’, helping them find their way. And that they found their way back to us, is such a huge gift, and one for which I’ll be grateful, forever.
Susan M. Davis, Founding Champion of The Co-Creation Community