Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sheep

I am all for being passionate about your beliefs. And I am all in favor of teaching your children to stand up for what they believe in. What is not acceptable in my opinion, however, are people who choose to teach their children to be intolerant. People who decide that their kids need to be raised to dislike an entire segment of society. People who have no qualms with ignorance, stereotypes and indecency.

The fundamental problem with people like this is that they themselves are narrow minded and easily led. They are teaching their children to be just like them. They are, for lack of a more fitting term, sheep. People who don't do their own research or make up their own minds, but instead rely on others to do it for them. They listen, without question, to the judgment of whoever they deem the decision makers in their lives.

There aren't many things that can come out of the mouth of a child that can shock me. I've heard every major curse word, racial slurs and more come from the mouths of babes. But what I heard a few days ago set me back a bit. And that I heard it come out of the mouth of a child Aidan's age troubled me. A child who clearly did not learn such things on his own.

Tom tends towards being an antagonistic person, and he loves to talk politics with people. He has, on more than one occasion, had passionate discussions with people he should know better than to discuss such subjects with. They rarely end well.

This boy comes from a family that we had known to be conservative. His parents often made comments, usually under their breath, about Democrats in general and Obama in particular, during the election. Little did they know that the vast majority of families in this area lean to the left. Tom asked the boy, in a completely joking manner, what he thought about Obama's first 100 days. I don't think Tom actually thought he'd get a response. But he did. And it was one that floored me. We were all speechless.

The boy said that he doesn't like Democrats, because they kill babies.

My knee jerk reaction was anger. How could he say such a thing? Clearly it isn't the truth! But then reality kicked back in, and I remembered that this is an eight year old child. Why should an eight year old child even be aware of the subject of abortion? Who in their right mind would want a child to know about that? And what parent would teach it to their child?

There are people who feel that it is okay to teach children about horrible things like abortion in the name of their religious and political convictions. These are the same kind of people that forced their children to stand on corners holding Prop 8 signs in California - the ones that said things like "God Hates Gays".

I am completely and unabashedly in favor of having passionate debates about these subjects. I think that well-educated, intellectual people can see things differently and can discuss them without resorting to lies and name-calling. I truly believe that one of the most important things a parent can teach a child is to be civic minded. To care about our political system, our system of leadership. To speak out. To debate. But there is a distinction between teaching a child to be civic minded and ingraining them with hatred and untruths. There is a difference between encouraging intelligent debates and teaching your children that entire segments of society are bad. There is a difference between showing your children to speak their mind and regurgitating the biased views of others, spewing hatred through your own offspring.

Parents are supposed to try and protect their children from the harsh realities of living in a society like ours, not use them as sign holders for shock value. They are sheep, and they are teaching their children to become sheep. How can people, some of which are otherwise very intelligent, be so blindly led? It is a scary world we live in.

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