"...Children aren’t necessarily more ethical or noble than adults – kids and adults can be kind or cruel. But kids are better at seeing the difference between fake and real, because they are real. Their kindness or their cruelty is real, not strategic or manipulative like adult kindness and cruelty can be.
We trust this in the littlest children. Babies get our complete trust. Pretty much everyone loves eye contact with babies. Some infant you’ve never seen before, any race, any gender, can catch your eye and you feel like a winner. A thrill goes up your spine and you make ridiculous faces to keep this baby’s eyes on you, to inspire a smile. If a stranger over the age of two stares at you it’s uncomfortable, you wonder what’s between your teeth. If a stranger over the age of nine stares at you it’s awkward, you wonder if your fly is unzipped. If a stranger over the age of thirteen stares at you, it’s scary, you wonder if you’re about to get mugged. But babies get us cooing and grinning.
Priest Richard Rohr tells a story about a young couple putting their newborn in the nursery for the night. Their four-year-old son says, “I want to talk to the baby!” “You can talk to him.” “I want to talk to him now and by myself,” the four-year-old announces. Surprised and curious, the parents listen at the door. The four-year-old says to his baby brother: “Quick, tell me where you came from. Quick, tell me who made you. I’m beginning to forget!”
What did you know when you were born that you have forgotten since? Maybe you could remember God knitting you together in your mother’s womb, perhaps you knew just how whole and holy you are, how God created you blessed, to be a blessing in this world. You were loved unconditionally by your creator, hopefully by your parents. You hadn’t made any mistakes yet, you weren’t responsible for your messes or noises or flaws.
We look for unconditional love for the rest of our lives, because early on we learn that we disappoint people, and it changes us. The little children don’t ask who among them is the greatest because early in our lives, we all trust our inherent greatness. We’re not worried about status because it hasn’t occurred to us that we are anything but beloved. And we’re not any less beloved now. God loves us even more completely than our parents can, though hopefully our parents have always tried, hopefully we always try to love unconditionally. But God really does it...."