Reading Time: 2 minutes

Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man, said the Jesuit priest.

The other evening, I was lying in bed with one of my five-year-old twins, Finn. He is learning to read, and we were reading a book for early readers called Pond Dipping. We were talking about the idea of pond dipping, the different animals you could find, how to sound out those words phonetically, and generally doing what young children the world over should be doing – learning. Learning about the beauty of the world, and learning to be a good person who will help to look after the world they inherit. My boy was cuddled in the crook of my arm, and everything about the moment was idyllic. It was innocence exemplified.

“That’s a snail. And that’s its foot, and it’s horns.”

“Where’s the dragonfly, Daddy?”

And so on.

At that moment, I felt a real joy of life. This is what parenthood and childhood should be, I felt. It was beautiful.

And then I remembered this:

who looks to have gone on to this execution:

And then there is this

and this

and this

and this

and this

and this boy blowing up four hostages in a car

And I wanted to cry. The lost innocence. The ruination of lives at such a young age. The sadness and horror of it all.

Pond dipping, snails and dragonflies. That’s what should concern a five-year-old.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...