It never ceases to amaze me as to how much a child can learn and retain. I remember being astonished when my own children started school and how much they learned every day. Now, I have grandchildren who at five years of age could effortlessly carry on simultaneous conversations in Spanish and in English.
Children not only learn how to communicate and answer questions, but in getting through their every-day lives, they start to acquire that greatest of qualities – namely ‘cop-on.’
‘A burned child dreads the fire’, my granny used always say. This is so: From the earliest age, both in the human and animal kingdoms, everyday obstacles sharpen the senses and so avoid some of the pitfalls out there in this great big world. This is what is known as ‘cop-on.’
‘Cop-on’ not only teaches us to avoid the ‘bear traps’, but also shows the way to navigate through the maze that is survival.
When I went to primary school in Johnstown N.S, the teachers, not only taught us the ‘three Rs’, but we were encouraged in the thinking art of ‘cop-on’. ‘Use your grey matter’, Master Lawlor would constantly motivate us with. This advice emboldened us, not only in the classroom, but in the playground and on the hurling field.
It is my fearful belief that today’s society has gradually discarded the natural requirement of ‘cop-on.’ During the second half of my lifetime to date, I have met so many fellow humans who are rich in qualifications, and yet dirt-poor when it comes to ‘cop-on’. People are looking to someone else for directions and advice for even the most basic of challenges. We have to have somebody to tell us what to do; and then, even more importantly, there has to be somebody else to blame for everything that goes wrong with our lives.
Covid-19 is the greatest threat to mankind that has occurred in my lifetime. The airwaves are being clogged with experts (and some not so expert!) disagreeing about what should be done, what has been done, and what not to do. There generally is a lot of talk using the word ‘confusion’.
I for one, am not ‘confused’ – whatever else I might be! Self-preservation tells me what I should do – because I served my time in that almost forgotten era of ‘cop-on.’
Last April I watched the late news on TV one night. One of the most imminent medical scientists in the world told me, (and forty million others) “wear a mask and keep your distance and you won’t get it.” That is all I needed to know seven months ago – and it is all I need to know for today. Yes, I know this is more difficult for some people than it is for me, but it is a fact that infection would be reduced by 90 per cent if everybody used this simple piece of ‘cop-on’. Keep it simple …
Very soon, those brilliant scientists will have used their God-given skills to find a vaccine. In the meantime, leave them at it; whilst you and I can use our God-given bit of ‘cop-on’ to avoid being infected. I can wear a mask: So can you? “Wear a mask and keep your distance – and you won’t get it.” If any of us got cancer and was told we could dodge it and all we had to do was wear a mask outdoors for six months and avoid close contacts; wouldn’t we consider that a miracle cure?
I tell young relations about miners trapped underground; about the story of Anne Frank and what people endure in war-torn countries. We then agree that we are not too badly off at all.
The answer is to use your own ‘cop-on’ and not to be looking to our ‘betters’ for guidance – or for a scapegoat to blame. What hope is there from the top table when the wearing of masks (or not) has become the most divisive divide in the upcoming American presidential election? This is the greatest example of ‘being high on qualifications and low on ‘cop-on’.
It is up to you, dear reader. You do it your way for your own good and for the safety of your family and friends. All bad things come to an end – same as all good things. ‘This too shall pass…’
There is nothing in the world more powerful than an idea. No weapon can destroy it; no power can conquer it, except the power of another idea.