This is a follow-up to my Plakids post and Barry’s thoughtful reply.

Somewhere in between instilling one’s values and handing a child a semi-automatic weapon is taking them on protests and rallies… but then again some might say that a July 4th rally is no better or worse than an anti-war rally (both being unquestionably correct to the person taking them to the rally)… but I view them in entirely different contexts.

It’s an interesting question, philosophically, where instilling one’s values begins and indoctrination or even brainwashing begins. Most Christians will raise their children as Christian, which some might liken to what I’m complaining about above, though I don’t find anything wrong with that as long as it has appropriate restraints. I have little patience for those that would turn out their own kids for being gay, getting pregnant, etc. On the other hand, if one believes the Bible to be the literal Truth of God and take Leviticus to view homosexuality as a sin, then it’s hard to take a squishy ‘tolerant’ view of gays.

Similarly, I don’t have a problem with taking kids to an Independence Day Parade. How different is that from an anti-war protest? Both are intuitively true to their boosters. After all, who’s “pro-war” or “Anti-America”? The answer is a lot of people, of course, and a lot of people who attend the former will view it as attempted indoctrination later in life (particularly when in college).

In some ways I think parents are somewhat duty-bound to pass on their values to the next generation. Their kids may accept or reject these values later on, but I have difficulty putting my arms around the notion that values should be determined from a blank slate from one generation to the next. Just the practical implications are horrifying. In some ways, I think, generations have been too liberal in rejecting the wisdom of their elders. It seems to me that the curse of the baby boomers has been a reluctance to acknowledge that their parents were right about some things. At war with growing up to become their parents and therefore in many cases choosing not to grow up at all.

I guess it’s somewhat the difference between passing on values and passing on worldviews. Values, such as justice, freedom, or morality, can be applied in a number of ways. Values imply questions while worldviews suppose answers. Maybe that opens up a slippery-slope back to complete moral relativism, but just as I think it’s important for children to acknowledge the wisdom of their elders, it seems to me to be important as well for them to build upon it with new ideas.

An Independence Day parade represents, to me, a celebration. Not the proclamation that America is perfect, but a day to celebrate where we are. Some years that seems harder to do than others, but it seems more important when we have a President with approval ratings in Hooverville and an opposition that’s faring little better. War protests, on the other hand, often seem less to me about building peace than going after war (and the elements that have driven us to war). The same goes for an anti-abortion protest, seeming less about celebrating life than screaming and shouting.

In both cases, I guess, the stakes are high. Thousands or tens of thousands dying in war or millions dying by abortion. But in some ways that makes it even more important to me to leave the children out of it. They will have time later to attack the weightier issues of the world. They will, hopefully or unfortunately, pick their own battles to fight. It just seems wrong to enlist them in someone else’s.

Category: Church, Statehouse

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