Yes, many suspect that is true, but specifically what do children know that adults forget? A recent article in Science News, Young kids can’t face up to disgust give some clues. Consider this excerpt for example:
Kids viewed images on a computer screen of adults displaying the six basic emotional expressions. The kids’ task was to assign faces to boxes at the bottom of the screen that had been designated for specific emotions, such as an “angry” box. The boxes were tagged with written labels for older children; the researchers read the expression names to younger subjects.
At age 2, children’s accuracy was limited to putting happy faces in a “happy” box. Toddlers treated all negative emotional expressions as being angry.
Shortly after age 3, an appreciation of sad faces emerged. About a year later, kids could accurately identify angry faces and had generally stopped putting faces with other negative expressions into the angry box. Correct designations of other facial expressions soon followed, with comprehension of disgusted faces appearing last.
Kids get it: We’re attracted to that which pleases. We’re repelled by that which displeases or pains. In fact, what animal isn’t? Certainly, dog, ants, and paramecium share this same approach to life. Happy faces result when we are pleased. Unhappy faces result when we are not. These are the two sides of nature, the iconic yin and the yang, the good & bad, beauty & ugly, and love & hate, that drive living being throughout life.
As young children, before thinking complicates our intuition (overtakes and drowns it out), we see the world more simply. We loose our natural correlation’s point of view on the journey into adulthood. On this journey toward increasing sophistication we cut the uncarved block into smaller and smaller pieces. We zoom in on these pieces assuming true understanding lies in knowing each, and we praise the intelligent, clever among us who excel at this. We end up missing the forest for the trees as we make mountains out of molehills (wise sayings reinforce each other). The only ‘truth’ we find are the difficulties that arise in adulthood as our discernment penetrates the four quarters. Everything has its price!
I’ve always found it ironic how children know when they are playing games, and it’s pretend. Children can use adults as a point of reference (which is where they are headed after all). This helps them see their game as a game. Adults, having no Adult-adults to serve as their point of reference, have difficulty knowing it’s a game. I suppose our ‘Adult-adults’ are those we put on pedestals: sages, gurus, saints, prophets, movie stars, athletes, heroes, etc. That hoodwink doesn’t really works as advertised as far as I can see. If anything it only increases the game’s illusion as we adopt the taboos, traditions, and myths of our culture. The most pernicious being the myth of free will, in my view. So, what’s the Taoist solution?
Exterminate the sage, discard the wise,
And the people will benefit a hundredfold;
Exterminate benevolence, discard rectitude,
And the people will again be filial;
Exterminate ingenuity, discard profit,
And there will be no more thieves and bandits.