The following rant (been a long time since I’ve been on one here in the Blogosphere), has come about as an answer to Doug’s comment on my post of yesterday. It was a terrific comment, and this is not intended to be a rant against his comment, rather it is a rant about the diseases with which society is now plagued – among which is domestic violence – one of the many diseases that has infinite consequences for all of us. Here goes, (and thank you, Doug, for your thoughtful comment!):
Whenever my husband is asked to perform a marriage ceremony, he will not do it unless he has had the opportunity to spend time in conversation with both the bride and groom together and separately. He has made the decision on occasion to decline their request. He wants to make certain that they both know what they are promising to each other – especially in the sight of God. This is obviously not true of all pastors, but it is of many.
I agree that it is not the schools or government that have the responsibility to teach life skills – it is the parents and family. Unfortunately, today it has become all too common for parents to completely abrogate their responsibility in almost all aspects of child rearing, and then complain when the schools try to do at least a little something to prepare them for the time when they are “on their own.”
I have a very dear friend who was a teacher (now retired) in an upstate NY school, who learned recently that the very classes she used to teach are being eliminated as “too expensive.” She taught marriage and family, nutrition, and parenting - basic life skills. So many of her students got pregnant (before she started teaching them ), ate only junk food because that’s all they got at home, did not know how to shop for or cook good food for themselves, and had no idea what marriage is or should/can be, nor what good parenting is. She, too, bemoaned the fact that such things had to be taught in the schools, but knew that otherwise these kids would never learn anything of everyday value – and thereby end up costing the public far more than any school courses would ever have.
Many of her former students come to her after graduation (sometimes years later) and tell her that they could not have survived on their own without having taken her courses. They learned more from her than from almost any other classes. Of course the same ill-considered “cost-cutting” actions are happening all over the country. They are eliminating music and art education – completely ignoring the fact that learning and studying the arts is directly related to math and science education. The USA is now so far down the list in our math and science scores among the public schools that it is an embarrassment. Unfortunately, it seems most decisions made by local. state, and national government legislators come down to the almighty dollar. They don’t seem to realize that failing to offer complete and well-rounded educations, teaching personal responsibility well enough so that those kids will be able to teach their own (instead of the schools having to), and all such essentials, costs those same communities they think they are saving a few dollars far more in the long run. It costs a lot more money to build and run prisons, use Medicaid dollars treating Type II diabetes among children, and all sorts of preventable diseases than it does to teach a child how to live in harmony with his/her neighbors, or how to shop wisely and eat well, and exercise regularly.
Yes, I believe churches bear part of the responsibility of teaching such essential things – teaching that the body is God’s temple, and requires careful stewardship, and how to treat our neighbors, indeed how to love, and understanding what love is. Some churches have quit emphasizing those things in favor of placating their congregations instead of challenging them, all to win more seat-warmers and more dollars in the collection plate (that $ again!). But it is hard for churches to emphasize and teach such behavior when fewer and fewer people attend, nor even care to, or they might “just drop the kids off at Church School” and pick them up later. The child most often only learns that “if it’s not important to them, why should it be important to me?”
It seems in many ways we have become such a consumer-obsessed society, that the only thing considered worthwhile in life is more money, more things, more of everything except what really matters. “The pursuit of happiness” has been replaced with “The pursuit of stuff,” as though they are somehow one and the same thing. The axiom “Charity begins at home,” (which many erroneously attribute to the Bible – click on link for an explanation), has been twisted to mean something akin to complete self-centeredness, taking care of “Number 1,” rather than as it was intended: The lessons of charity (love) are taught first at home, so that they may be learned, practiced, and taught to each generation. If charity really began at home, then we would have very little need for many of the things that are expected by negligent parents and guardians to be taught by someone else (if taught at all). Over the last few decades, that has become more and more the case. In a way, it is not the parents of today who are completely responsible. How can they teach something they never learned themselves?
Each of us who understands the principles of happy and joyful living need to be teaching these principles – not by tracts-giving, Bible-thumping, or soap-box orating (which I am doing now!), but by living those principles every day. Actions speak far louder than words. It happens that I am a Christian (or doing my best to be one), but the principles I speak of are not exclusive by any means to Christianity. A belief if God is not required to teach such things – living in charity with one’s neighbor just makes good sense – and it is enormously less expensive for society in the long run.
I do not rise in the morning nor lie down at night without asking God to help me be the person that behaves, and not just talks, what she believes. I know that many time I fall woefully short, but each day I do make an effort to be louder in my actions than my words (which judging by the length and tenor of this post would have to be pretty darn loud!).
More than once my mother asked me, “Paula, if you were to be accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Substitute any symbol you choose for “Christian,” and the same question applies. Walking the walk of love is far more important than talking the talk of love. The walk of Love is one of the few things in life of which there can never be enough. . .
(As Nancy says, “Ahhh. . .that’s better!”)