Kids are Canaries and Virtues are Mustard Seeds

It is well known that animals and other living things can be used to detect a problem before people become aware of it. These are called sentinel animals or indicator species. For more than a century, canaries were used in coal mines to detect toxic gases. They became sick before people became sick, and thus gave miners a chance to escape. But there were limits to what the canaries could tell the miners. Dead canaries didn’t tell where the gas was coming from or the specific type of toxic gas present in the mine. Once the canary fell off its perch, the miners knew they were facing a hazard but had to investigate further to find the source, exact nature and severity of the problem, and then decide what to do about it. Today’s kids are the “canaries” of our times. They are dropping off their perches in droves and it seems like very few people are paying attention to the disaster they are foretelling. The death of character, the vulgarity and violence of our society, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity and sex abuse, unemployment and the pressure it puts on families, and the overall decline in our standard of living. In their day, canaries in a coal mine communicated the presence of a problem by silently expiring.

Promoting virtue is like sowing mustard seeds. We go about scattering seed on the ground. Day in, day out, while we continue to do our work, the seed sprouts and grows, though we really don’t understand how that happens. Spreading the good news about virtue can start in the smallest of ways, just as the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds on earth. Yet when planted, the seed grows and becomes the largest of all the garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can take rest under the shade of its limbs.

I encourage you to diligently keep spreading those mustard seeds. We don’t know exactly how or where they will take root, but rest assured they will sprout and grow so that our canaries can take comfort and rest under the peaceful shade cast by the tree of virtue.