In grade-school I recall my 3rd or 4th-grade class learning a song for a student assembly that we had to perform in front of the whole school.
Parents were invited (and always welcome), but few (ever) attended. Unlike today, when kid's programs are scheduled for evenings in deference to parents who want to watch (and photograph and video-tape), in those (olden) days, assemblies were strictly afternoon affairs held during the school day or immediately following. At best we'd have a handful of moms who'd stop by the cafeteria/auditorium to watch and clap for us. Some of them, from the neighborhood, still wore their aprons, as if they'd just torn themselves from their kitchens to rush over and watch us while their evening casseroles baked in the oven.
The song I remember learning for that program was called Let There Be Peace On Earth and what I best remember about it was the second line: "And let it begin with me." I remember as a kid taking the notion of my personal responsibility for bringing about world peace very seriously. To a certain extent, down deep, where the spirit occasionally dips to sample its truest nature, that sense of personal responsibility for causing good effects in the world never left me.
I'm not sure where it came from in me but, as a parent, it's always been my firm intention to impart it to my kids: that they can - and that they DO - make a difference in the world.
I bring up that old song from that long-ago assembly because the other day my 8-year-old daughter was doing her homework on the floor of my office at home as I was working at my desk and she started absent mindedly singing softly to herself (to the familiar tune of "School Days, School Days):"
"Earth Day, Earth Day,It turned out, their entire grade at school (3rd) was scheduled to perform a program called Project Rescue: Save the Planet (by Michael and Jill Gallina) and the song she was singing was one of the numbers from the show. We had a conversation about how important that subject was and, seeing that I was interested and excited, she proceeded (at my request) to sing me all the songs from the show. They included titles like "Disposable Society," "Keep Our Waters Clean," "Overload," "Pollution Free," and the finale, "Guardians of the Earth."
Join the earth's rebirth day,
Recycle, replenish, respect you see,
They're the three Rs of Ecology..."
Clever little songs and, as it turns out, a very clever little script. The show was last night and the little cafeteria was packed with parents to see the 3rd grade perform. There were four main groups of kids with speaking parts: the self-conscious group of picnicking litterbugs and the delightfully-costumed Air Animals, Sea Animals and Land Animals to call them to account. The rest of the 3rd-graders were the chorus and they belted out the reggae, rap and rock numbers with gusto and enthusiasm.
I'll spare you the scene by scene, but let's just say by the end of the play, the litterbugs had acknowledged their misdeeds and renewed their pledges to be good Guardians of the Earth and to abide by the three Rs of ecology. I loved the play and especially the fact that the school my kids attend is socially conscious enough to seek out and find - and then to make the effort to perform - such a worthwhile little show.
I just hope the message sticks with my daughter the way "Let There Be Peace on Earth" stuck with me.