Opening Words from Sun. June 11 by Jennifer Escher

Good morning. My name is Jennifer Escher. My three boys and I recently became members of the Ethical Society. We found the society after what, to be honest, felt like a long and arduous search.

My pediatrician recently described children as flowers in a garden. He claims that every child is a completely unique type of flower. Some are roses, others lilies or perhaps even sunflowers. He encourages parents to cherish the attributes that make their child unique. He goes so far as to say, that we often limit the potential of our kids by expecting them to act like a rose when they are incapable of doing so because they are a tulip instead. We would be better served by embracing their differences rather than expecting conformity.

I appreciate his anecdote. It makes me smile a little when my children misbehave as I imagine them as a garden of beautiful flowers. Adults are, by-extension, grown up flowers. Each of us is entirely unique and special, blending together to create a beautiful landscape. Why is it then that so often we see each other as weeds or only want to be around one flower type?

I spent many years in rural Missouri where it seemed most of my friend’s parents received a great deal of comfort from surrounding themselves with people with whom they had a lot in common. They shared a common religion, skin tone, socio economic class, and country club. I have to imagine their opinions and thoughts on life differed very little.

This was the antithesis of my upbringing (by at least one of my parents). My mother raised my sister and I on the foundation that homogeny made for a very dull and colorless life and often was dangerous. She encouraged us to surround ourselves with people who did not look like us, think like us, dress like us, love like us, or pray like us. A difference in opinion was not a threat, but a learning opportunity. As a math professor, learning was one of her ultimate goals for my sister and me. She believed that knowledge and learning lead to understanding and love.

I am very happy to have found the St. Louis Ethical Society. I feel like I have found a safe place for my kids to explore their thoughts and ideas of the world. In its members they will be exposed to a multitude of viewpoints on life. Most importantly they will be cherished for being a unique and beautiful flower. Perfect as they are. Thank you.

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.