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Carefully Taught

July 25, 2014

There is a family I want to highlight because the little girl is already so compassionate and non-judgmental that she will certainly grow into an amazing adult and probably do remarkable things.  I doubt she would ever point and ask What’s wrong with that man? or turn away from a disfigured face or hate people simply because they’re different.  She is learning to see the heart of an individual and to love without regard to appearance.

There is so much hate, violence, and dehumanization burning in this world.  You can say it’s culture and history and poverty and huge and a juggernaut and institutionalized and irreparable and unstoppable.  But a child must be carefully taught.*  What if they weren’t?  What if a generation said, Enough!  Most of the atrocities committed by humanity are done by individuals following someone else.  Why can we not raise sons and daughters to stop following horrible people? Maybe it’s too complicated or too far outside my experience to understand, but I follow a man who lived in one of these historically “troubled” lands.  He has been described like this:

A radical, non-violent, revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers, and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer; but was never anti-gay, never mentioned abortion or birth control, never called the poor lazy, never justified torture, never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes, never asked a leper for a copay; and was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing anti-slut-shaming middle eastern Jew    (~John Fugelsang)

Maybe it’s a stretch from a little girl who kisses her faceless cat (yes, Chase is hard to look at the first time, but she’s not in pain and has lived 9 years like this with her wonderful family) to the man Jesus to an outbreak of peace in humanity.  But change will never begin with those who already have the power.  There must be a better way than passing it from those who had the most guns to those who have the biggest rockets.  Society must change; that change can only begin with the character of the individual members of it.  Every one of us.


*You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

We’ve made some progress since Rodgers&Hammerstein penned this in 1949, but not nearly enough.  I’m afraid it’s as true and as sad as ever, even with a catchy tune.

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