Monday, January 19, 2009

Choice, Determinism, and Terrorism As Understanding Parenting

Choice is a way of life for Americans. We, for the most part, have choices, within our sphere of life. Christians, on the other hand, for the most part, believe that "God has a plan for your life", or "God has an ultimate plan". While one believes in definitive choices to be within "god's plan", as it is based on a "personal relationship", the other has a broader understanding of "god's plans", which is compatable with a liberal or scientific view.

Determinism is the belief that God or life determines the individual and determinists would play into the later view of "god's ultimate plan". I do not believe this is so. One bases their belief on the transcendent, while the other bases their understanding of a "blank slate". One believes that the "inspired text" determines how one is to raise the child, and the other, believes that the parenting determines the child.

While I do believe that how parents bring up their children does affect them, it does not, nor should not determine them. Otherwise, there would be no one that attained the American Dream, or became a "hero". The destiny of one's life is within their own hands, and our government protects those freedoms, in opportunity, equality, and from discrimination. We have been given opportunity in this country. Therefore, I do not believe in determinism.

Nor do I believe that the child is born a 'blank slate". Children have innate giftings, personalities, and as they grow, develop their own opinions and values, Parents should never control or force their child to conform, unless it is dangerous to their physcial or emotional well-being. The parent should encourage, as well, as prod, and challenge the thinking of the maturing young adult. And the parent should always give the message that their door is open, as the young adult's adovacate.

While there are those behaviorists who would adhere to a strict "input-output" mode, I think they have misguided understandings of the complexity of the human, much less the complexity of the real personal history, itself.

The other term I used in my title was terrorism. What is terrorism? It is actions which cause terror, stress, anxiety. Why? Because it disrupts a "way of life", in a unlawful way. And it relates to the parenting model.

Terrorists are surprise attackers and they connive, manipulate, and infilterate our forms of security. They don't see any need for addressing concerns in a rational, or reasonable way. And today's terrorists are mixed with religious zeal, where under compulsion one must obey the "cause of god". Obedience is the proirity for these people, as it is for any cult. There is no understanding of "life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness". Truth is ultimate, not contextual. Truth is understood in idealized ways and it devalues and destroys the "human". The "human' and all of life is viewed in narrow, and very specified ways that inhibit diversity.

I find that Christians sometimes can be just as misguided. Christians have understood the "kingdom" in many ways. Some have understood it to be without, and some have understood the kingdom as within. Those whose understanding is in historical time have understood the kingdom as "now", others have understood the kingdom as "to come", and some have understood the kingdom as "here and yet, not here". How do we address these issues when it comes to reality? The kingdom is in the heart of the child, as well as in the theological realm.

Certainly, one would not suppose that these understandings could be brought into reality within historical time, without understanding man's limitation in understanding life, history, revelation, and god, himself. Whenever simple solutions are applied to complex issues, one is headed for disaster. Terrorists have a divided understanding and mentality when it comes to "god's kingdom". It is fundamentalistic and it limits freedom "in the name of god". This is no less what some believe is "total depravity", as we are born in sin. What does "total" mean? Does it mean that there is no trace of "god's image in man" left? Therefore, the child must be conformed into that image?And what does that image look like?

We should never limit another's freedom, unless it hurts or hinders another in their freedom. This is the basis of a liberal society. The same is true for parenting, as we choose to home-school, or send our children to public or private schools..And it is also true of the child's freedom of "sefl". This is not to say that the child should not obey or act respectfully, but the child should be respected as a person. There should be a wideness and diversity in our country's understanding of "how a parent is to function".

While child-raising has been understood as a high goal for parents, child-rearing is not a "road-map", but a challenge to listen, learn and love. This is no easy task, as there really is not specific guidelines, unless one wants to adhere to a fundamentalist's understanding of child-rearing. The best parents do not always have children that "turn out" like them. But, this is a good thing, as it illustrates the diversity in the innate nature of individuals. As I have said before, I raised my children early on, in an authoritarian way, as I thought that children's utmost or primary function was to learn to obey. Otherwise, I was told, that they couldn't obey god. This limited my ability to hear and see my children at times, because of my fear that they would be "led astray". And my children did not learn to risk the chance of "going outside the box", for fear of disobeying the conforming standards of "tradition". This was as much about me, as them. I have learned that parenting is an art, not a science. And artists are not terrorists as they bring beauty and allow choice into the world. Terrorists destroy beauty and deny choice, as the only beauty is the "transcendent". I hope that all parents will learn the art of parenting and grow themselves in the process.

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