How does a socially healthy society develop?

On the eve of Universal Children's Day – 20.11.16


"Spieln die Bubn auf ein‘ hartn Grund. Kriegn‘s bald harte Augn, an harten Mund,“ Arik Brauer - Sie hab'n a Haus baut


Arik Brauer sang these beautiful words in the 1970s, roughly translated to, “If the kids play on hard ground, they will soon get hard eyes and a hard mouth.” The question really is, though, how much harder is it for children to play nowadays than it was back then. 

At that time, it was said that children laughed about 400 times a day. Is this still true today? What is there to laugh about when all that is shared on Facebook with 100 friends are empty statements and slander? What kind of pleasure is it to shoot computer generated zombies, zigzagging through life as if it is one large video game?

The same question could be asked when viewing animated programmes, where pre-adolescents are portrayed with huge glowing eyes and pre-pubertal bosoms?Where is the joy when a child is painted on television in unrealistic ways? 

Today, it seems, children are well-versed in many of life’s activities. They are well educated; speak several languages; play several instruments; and participate in afternoon classes. Yet, most have not developed any personal strategies to deal with emotional stress.

The same is true for children who experience neglect, mistreatment, hatred or violence. We must invest our time in these children. They are all our future!

How should children recognize the connections in this modern world - to experience life, to understand nature, to learn social norms? Where is the bravery of exploring the unknown? This can only come through the natural play with other children. These interactions establish the social rules between each other. This is where social behaviours on how to resolve conflicts are discovered. Have we really forgotten how important it is to physically interact with one another? To listen to the sound of someone’s voice, to look into each other’s eyes, and to understand what the other person means beyond words?

Laughter and playfulness are essential stepping stones for learning to succeed in life. The programmes that bring humour and joy to the hospital are successful all over the world exactly because they are in harmony with the nature of what it means to be human. When a child experiences emotional turmoil, laughter is often the best means forward.

So back to our original question: how does a socially healthy society develop?

It needs the love that children naturally exuberate. It needs the space in which children can feel safe to laugh and play. It also needs laughter to build bridges and connect us with others. 

Let us recognize the importance of play for our children again. We should not isolate them in small cubicles surrounded by technology. Let our children laugh and be merry so that they can become strong, self-confident people who will influence our future responsibly.

Monica Culen

CEO RED NOSES Clowndoctors International
Co-Founder of the RED NOSES Group
President of Fundraising Verbandes Austria
President of the European Foundation of Hospital Clown Organisations (EFHCO)  


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