Lying to Children
I don't mean about Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy. For those are all whimsical fantasies that spark the intrigue in a child's imagination. Nursing the creative flame so to speak. Nor do I mean to condone the act of talking to your child like an adult from the moment they pop out of the womb. Sure, I conform to the notion that we should treat children less like children and more like the functioning adult members of society that they will one day become, absolutely. But I would think it's inadvisable to scar them with brutal honesty from the get go:
"The world is a shit hole. No-one really cares about you. You're in a system that lies to your face. Exaggerates your ability. Tells you that you need a mundane 9 till 5 job to pay for a society that is built to endlessly consume, consistently engage in political (and subsequently actual) warfare, destroys the planet, and destroys your spirit."
You've got to ease them into that; they'll learn as they go. But speaking of spirit, that's exactly the lie I'm talking about. Or perhaps lie is the wrong word, maybe exaggeration of facts would be more accurate, and frankly, the word 'facts' is a bit of a stretch in itself. I am of course referring to the unscrupulous act of having religious education, specifically christian indoctrination, forced upon them from very early on. Now I am by no means inferring that teaching children about religion is wrong. Oh contraire! I actually think it's very important to teach children about all the various held spiritual beliefs of the many different cultures. But it absolutely should be a multitude of beliefs, and we shouldn't teach it as if it is 100% historically accurate fact.
Now it's very possible I'm speaking out of turn here. For I haven't been in education for nigh on 5 years, primary education in over 11 years, so it very well may be different now, we are after all living through a turbulent time of aggressive innocuous inclusion. However, allow me to illustrate what I, and certainly most of my generation was subject to from the ages of 5-11.
I went to a little school called Whitchurch C of E. The C of E stands for Church of England, and probably played a bigger role in this issue than non C of E schools would (Although I am fairly certain that even non-church schools are required by law to have daily collective worship - i.e prayer). But I recall believing for the longest time that Noah actually built a wooden boat, that housed 2 of every animal (inaccurate, it was actually 7 or 2 depending on the species and whether they were "clean" or "dirty") and for 40 days and nights, sailed across the globe which was entirely flooded. I thought that Moses had parted the Red Sea and walked across it. I bought into, without question, that God made the universe in it's entirety in 6 days, sculpted man from thin air, made woman from his rib, that Mary had given virgin birth, and that her son, having been nailed to a cross for six hours and dumped in a cave for 3 days, rose from the dead (and hell) and acsended to heaven up above the clouds. I believed this because it was taught to me as fact. There was no nuance in the discussion. There was no encouragement to question such fables or perceive them as we pleased. It was as factual to me as it was that 2+2=4. It was taught as such.
I find that really quite worrying. I know for a fact that it directly resulted in my renouncement of all religion, my becoming a self-proclaimed (and shamefully a self-righteous) atheist by the time I hit secondary school, and my brief, but very real, stint of nihilism. And I think it would be naive to discount it as a contributing factor to why a vast amount of people ultimately end up identifying as atheists or agnostics.
As it goes, I'm now incredibly spiritual, but I don't buy into organised religion at all. My beliefs resonate closest with Hinduism or Buddhism, and that's probably because they're not really at all preachy in the classic sense. The Bible: [Mark 16:16] for example states:
"Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
That's 2 prerequisites and a punishment.
In The Bhagavad Gita however, right near the very end [18:63]Sri Krishna turns to Ajuna and says:
"I give you these precious words of wisdom; reflect on them and then do as you choose."
That's akin to "Here's my advice, take it or leave it."
Whilst it took me 22 years and some psychedelic experiences to even entertain the idea of reading Indian religious texts, it really needn't have...
There is a reason why there are soap operas on TV that have run for over 50 years, because we like drama. There is a reason why kids love shows like Thomas the Tank Engine or Dora the Explorer, it's a lesson in the form of a narrative. The writers of old understood that concept perfectly. No-one likes being told what to do, how to live, how to act. But we love stories. We can't get enough of them. So they took moral principles, and a message about a sustainable way to live within community, and dramatised it as to allow people to easily relate, and extrapolate such ideas to their own daily lives. They wrote about the archetypal hero, hoping we would aspire towards such a figure. And yet hundreds and hundreds of years down the line, in a time where information flows as freely as water in the ocean, in a period where we can quite literally look back in time 13.4 billion years at quite possibly the oldest galaxy in existence, in a reality where you can hop online and get the answer to pretty much any question you can feasibly think of within the boundries of current possibility; we take something that was written by people infinitely less capable than us as completely literal. It's archaic.
I'm not as cynical as I once was, and I'm not sure I do believe this, or at least I certainly don't want to, but maybe it's all intentional. Maybe it's in some people's interests to have the masses either blindly believe in outdated social ideologies that divide and segregate us, or to be so abhorred with fiction fed as fact as to tune out to the possibility of any form of spiritual awakening. I certainly hope not, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.
If we are to genuinely enlighten our children and have them be the pioneers of fixing everything that has been left broken before us, I think the first step may be to stop enforcing religious doctrine as a matter of fact, and teach them to be objective in their learning of human culture. The irony of course being that in doing so they will probably come to have a genuine appreciation of religious texts, and start to tread down the spiritual path of love and camaraderie a lot sooner than most...