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The World is our Playground

When filling out my profile, I did something that so often happens when writing. I wrote something down with the explicit knowledge that it might be taken incorrectly. I used an under-explained sentence to describe a profound feeling, and knew that someone reading it wouldn't see the complexities behind the statement. At that time I promised myself I'd write a post about it, and since it has been nagging at the back of my mind since then, tonight is the night.

When asked my vision of an ideal future world, I responded \"The World is our Playground.\"

Why does that sound so whimsical? Perhaps it's because when we picture a playground, we picture swings, slides, giggling laughter, and a time when our worries were small and our imaginations were large. We picture whimsy.

But when we picture those things, we are viewing that playground as outsiders. As adults watching the games of children. Perhaps we have forgotten what it really felt like to be a child on a playground.

The playground games of children are so much more than fairy tales and imagination. These games are the battles of good and evil, the tests of morality, the building of love, friendship, and confidence, and the unflinching truth of learning our place. From a schoolyard bully, to the tears of a friend, to the first time we knowingly witnessed a \"harmless\" lie, on the playground we decided who we would be, we tested how we would react in real situations, and together we conquered so much more than imaginary demons.

Over and over I have watched children practicing morality. I have watched them defend a helpless friend from the taunting of others. I have watched them debate and sway back and forth and finally decide to tell an adult when someone is doing something wrong. I have watched them scrupulously follow the rules of a game when no one is around to care. I have watched them consider doing an evil thing only to control their urge and turn around and walk away. Over and over I have watched children conquer the wrong and triumphantly look the right square in the eye. Playground children hold themselves and each other to high standards. They know the difference between right and wrong, and they know something many adults forget - that to hold their tongues when something wrong is happening is wrong in itself.

So when I say \"The World is our Playground,\" I am not taunting the brutal truth that so many of us are facing. I am not suggesting that we should laugh and giggle and roll on the ground with our friends (though a little of that never hurt anyone). I am, instead, suggesting that we should hold our grown-up playmates to the same standards we once held our childhood ones to. That we should band together to stop a bully. That we should follow the rules, even when no one is watching, and that we should speak out in those same honest tones we used before we learned to cover them up.

As the world has become more and more globalized, as we can communicate with our friends and strangers in countries we cannot fathom, as my peers traverse the world with a budget plane ticket on a whim, I have thought to myself over and over that the world is our playground. Just as we could go anywhere and be anything in our imaginary childhood worlds, so can we now in our real grown-up ones. But as we step forth into our playground, I hope we remember the rules. They haven't changed - it only takes our courage to follow them, and to ask others to do the same.

Northern America
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