How do we teach our children and feed them on these dreams? These days, it seems our children are presented with more and more to learn. Not only are they expected to develop in all the academic ways, but there is also the extra 'enrichment': an instrument or two, a few sports, perhaps dance and art? Maybe an extra language?
Amid this very thick academic soup, I have been pondering what a liberal religious community should teach its children. What is it that they might not learn anywhere else that they'll need to know in order to be a good and whole person? How can we help them become part of the movement toward peace, understanding, justice, and love?
I believe that a liberal religious community's purpose is to aid us in our growth toward wholeness, to create and sustain caring healing community, and to inspire us to do our part in making a better world.
We don't need our teaching to duplicate what kids are getting in school, of course. In fact, what we need to be is the antidote to all the negative messages that kids (and all of us) receive every day from the media and from our popular culture. There is a lot of evil around us and, not surprisingly, I don't mean evil in the sense that the right-wingers do. In fact, when I look at the people who are out there decrying what they see as evil, they are usually the ones perpetrating the true evils. You know them: the crazy 'God hates fags' people, the right wing anythings, the anti birth control orthodoxy, the book-burning crazies in America... you know...
But the evils that really drag us down are more insidious. They are the evils that create tremendous wealth inequalities. They are the evils that make us think that happiness comes from having more stuff. They are the evils that give us the idea that our bodies are not good enough. They are the evils that make us selfish and fiercely independent, despite the fact that true happiness comes from interdependence. They are the evils that make us think that suffering and injustice are someone else's problem - not ours. And they are the evils that make us fear and mistrust anyone who is different.
Liberal religious community needs to be the antidote. It needs to be the voice that counters all that materialistic, atomistic, shallow nonsense. As I am a completely non-traditional guy I thought it would be good to put this into very traditional form. Thusly and herewith are the '10 commandments' I'd like to teach our kids:
- Accept, respect, and love yourself
- Strive to understand and have compassion for everyone else. There is always more than meets the eye.
- Recognize that you are interconnected with all living things
- Accept that different is not the same as bad
- Share and give of what you have
- Try new things, even if you're afraid
- Accept that you have a responsibility to our planet
- Strive to be awestruck by beauty
- Work for justice, understanding, and peace
- Be as grateful as you can for everything that comes your way