As a parent, coming from a Military family and serving as a Marine in Iraq, Bennie Harris brings a unique perspective to what he has come to know about:
Raising a Conscious Child
The thought of writing anything regarding raising a child is daunting, at least for me it is, because I always wonder if I got it right?
I was raised in a military family during the Vietnam War era. My father served two tours there while I was in elementary school. I still remember our talks before he headed off to Vietnam, especially the second time, because I was a bit older and enduring a bit more from the kids in the community.
For the majority of my father’s time in the Army we lived on various military installations, but when he was deployed to Vietnam we moved back home to Seaside, California on the Monterey Peninsula. As a child on a military installation you’re pretty much shielded from life on the “outside” and you’re in the closed company of other’s, all with similar family situations. It was a pretty structured environment and an exhilarating youthful experience.
I still vividly remember the nightly news with the weekly “body counts”, but I never recall fearing that my dad would not return. Years later after his retirement from active service, I remember him adamantly stating that; “his boys would never serve in the Army.” Well, I went in the Marine Corps and my brother joined the Air Force. I still jokingly say that; “my father didn’t talk to me for eight years”, the length of time that I served.
Fast forward to 2004 and the war in Iraq was in full-swing, and my son was a teen into his sophomore year of high school and my daughter, into her freshman year. As I sat at my desk at the YMCA in Columbus, Georgia, I was feeling a bit helpless, watching the events unfold abroad and watching the many military families in our community send husbands and wives over to serve. Columbus, Georgia is home to Fort Benning, which is home to part of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division which spear-headed the invasion of Iraq.
I made the decision to leave my position at the YMCA and work in Iraq as a civilian contractor to do some part in being of service to the men and women in uniform. Little did I know how this experience would change my life and how I saw my kids and my responsibility as a parent.
Daily I saw kids (those just a few years older than my son) heading outside the wire to work and I was stunned the first time one that I was aquatinted with didn’t return. At this very moment the Vietnam experience came back to me and I believe at that moment, that I knew why my dad didn’t want us in the Army.
For the first time ever, I began to question the sanity of war and how we could raise our children to be conscious of thinking differently. Interestingly, I never questioned this thing called war as a child or during the years that I was a Marine.
Through my five year experience in Iraq and the five memorials that I participated in for our fallen soldiers, I glimpsed the possibility of another way and that it would have to start with our children.
When I returned home I saw my children differently, of course they were older but not just them, but other children too. I saw them no longer as extensions of myself but as individual, conscious, thinking beings. Thomas Troward had a great piece in The Dore Lectures,
“My mind is a Center of Divine Operation. The Divine operation is always for expansion and fuller expression…”
As much as I had endeavored to understand this, I had never thought of its application outside of myself. As I worked, ate, slept, laughed and cried with these Soldier’s, Sailor’s, Airman and Marines, I saw this Divine Operation in them and in these men and women; I saw my own children too. Not only did I see my children but I saw everybody’s children.
When we did memorial’s for those that we had lost, I saw somebody’s, somebody. They we not just a service member, they were somebody’s father, son, grandson, brother and friend. (Our units didn’t loose any women while I was there.) In essence, to me, they were my child, my somebody! Even today, this still brings me to tears, how can we do this to our children?
But, I didn’t only see the Divine in our military or coalition troops; I also saw It in those that some have called the enemy. They too, be they Iraqi, Afghanistan citizens, or any other so called enemy combatant, they too are somebody’s somebody. They are our somebody too!
For the first time, I really began to understand that there is no Us and Them. There is only us, the human race, regardless of the nationality or language spoken.
This I believe is our key to raising A Conscious Child; we must each grow to maturity with a sense of oneness and unity with our Universe at large and our World as a whole. As we become more aware of who our neighbors are, not just on or street, but in other states and in other countries, we’ll begin to understand that we really are not that different from each other. We may have different cultural norms, but essentially we are all the same.
Every child wants to feel loved and have a sense of security, hopefulness and possibility and this is THE very best place to start. With The Consciousness of Us.
Benny was raised in a military community with his dad serving 22 years in the U.S. Army. He served in the United States Marine Corps from Feb. 1975 to August of 1982 and later worked abroad in Iraq as a government contractor providing service to the Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine from September 2004 to June 2009.
He currently serves as an Independent Licensed LifeSuccess Consultant – and a business partner of Bob Proctor and LifeSuccess Productions. He is also a life-long student of the Universal Principles and Laws of Success, as noted in the metaphysical and spiritual writings of antiquity.
Bennie and his wife Sheila have been married for 26 years and have 2 wonderfully mature children, Cameron age 23 and Chelsea age 21.
You can access Bennie’s writing on his website at: www.mentorsofnewthought.com