Monday, 3 October 2011

What Do We Tell Our Kids?

Yesterday my teenaged daughter watched a video on Tumblr.  It  showed the brutal and barbaric killing of a homosexual African man at the hands of a mob.  The defenceless man was mercilessly beaten and eventually set on fire.  No one helped him, bystanders simply filmed the senseless attack.  There was no mercy.  There was no humanity.  It was callous and matter of fact. He made no attempt to fight back, he seemed resigned to the fact that he was being murdered.  It took place on a busy street in broad daylight.  This was his punishment for being a gay man in an intolerant country.  No one will be brought to justice over this.  No remorse will be shown for his hideous death.  This killing was done in the name of the Christian church.

I can not protect my teenager from witnessing such things on the internet, nor would I want to.  This is the world she lives in. I would never want to police or restrict her online activity or limit her freedom. After all, she has access to computers everywhere nowadays.  I believe in teaching my children to be self-limiting rather than impose strict boundaries myself. I have however always encouraged an open and honest dialogue with my children and I was so glad that she immediately came to me following her discovery of something that had disturbed her.  It gave us a chance to discuss things.

But how can you explain that the God we learn about in school and church, the subject of the Lord's Prayer that we eagerly recite as children,  is the same God that inspires such hatred, violence and intolerance?  Is this spiteful, wrathful and vengeful God the same one that told us to 'Love Thy Neighbour'?   It makes no sense.

How in 2011 can such extreme bigotry be accepted by both the authorities and the average man on the street?  How can Christianity be twisted in this way to justify such inhumanity towards your fellow man?  It is beyond my comprehension.

My own political views are not extremely liberal.  As I have got older, I have swapped the ideology of my youth with a tougher, more cynical approach as I have witnessed the erosion of respect in our own society.  My ideas about law, order and punishment have definitely taken a new direction where the human rights of the perpetrator become secondary to that of the victims. I do not believe in the necessity of preserving the rights of a criminal to the extent of where ridiculous lengths are taken to do so, often at the detriment of the party that have been wronged.  I don't believe in a soft touch justice system that is open to abuse by career criminals.  But in what world do we give ourselves the job of being judge, jury and executioner of someone whose only "crime" is to be 'different'? This is the 21st century, not the dark ages.  What on earth is happening to our world?

We all have our own moral compass.  We are responsible for our actions and behaviour and have a line over which we would never cross.  But when someone truly believes that their behaviour is fully justified, they feel they have done no wrong.  Whatever happened to the simple idea of 'do unto others...'?

I hate to live in a world where so many inexcusably bad things happen.  Not just this one incident, but the millions of incidents of cruelty, abuse, neglect, violence and hatred that occur everyday.  It literally breaks my heart.  I have always tried to bring my children up to do their best and be their best.  To shine a little light into the lives of people they meet.  To try to make a difference.

My daughter was obviously and understandably upset and outraged by the video but her response to what she had seen was to want to help. She wants to try to heal the world and do something, however small, to make it a better place.  I find that so humbling.  Many of the other kids on Tumblr who had reblogged or commented on the video showed similar outrage and spoke eloquently about injustice and inhumanity.  My daughter is going to look into charity work.  She wants to raise money for causes and hopes to do her bit for this world.

Her Facebook status read:

I'm going to change the people, make someone happy...I don't know. I just want to make a difference...even a little. This world needs help.

I am so very proud of her, her humanity, her empathy for others and her desire to try to do something positive.  Our kids are the future of this planet...I pray that they do a better job than previous generations have. 


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