Is it possible that we are absolutely clueless about how to raise our children? Is it possible that we are passing on ideas we don’t even believe in? Is it possible that we just take in things and don’t think deeply or question them because they are how our people always did them? I really think so.
Spending time with youth and my young king has made me question very many things including basic tenets of my faith. I know not many of us will ever admit to it but a lot of what we hold to has never been explained to us.
There has to be another way.
A story is told of a mother who was making ham (not from here) and she cut off the ends before putting it into the oven. One day her daughter asked her why she does it and she said her mother always did it. The little girl went to grandma and asked why she cut off the ends and she said her mother always did it. The little girl was privileged to have her great grandmother still around and she asked her why and she explained that her mother taught her to do it. Of course they hadn’t questioned it till then but a little research led them to find the reason…the size of the pans and ovens were smaller in the past so they cut the piece to fit. The arrival of a bigger oven didn’t change the habit because no one questions the origin of the behaviour.
This morning I read an interesting piece called Malady of the 5 monkeys. In short, five monkeys were put in a cage and a banana was hang in one corner with steps leading to it. If a monkey climbed toward the banana it was sprayed with water and so were the rest. In the end, any one heading up the steps was attacked and stopped by the rest. Over time they removed the original monkeys one by one and replaced them with other and even without knowing why they always attacked whoever was going up the steps. This behaviour was so ingrained that in the end it didn’t matter that they didn’t know why they did it, they just stopped other from going up the steps no matter what.
As I spend time with young people there is a consistent question in our conversations…WHY?
Questioning things is part of growing up and I remember asking many and getting answers but as I have grown up, the answer of when I was eighteen isn’t good enough for me now in my 40’s and for my son in his teens. ‘Why?’ is a difficult question for many of us to answer because our own internal why’s were never asked or answered. We have settled for answers like our culture says so or it has always been done that way or because I said so or that is just how it is, yet we need to be honest those answers aren’t adequate and they will never be. So when the young people ask the question I have to be honest with them. Sometimes I don’t have the answer and I have to say ‘I don’t know.’
I cannot stop at ‘I don’t know,’ because that hasn’t helped anyone. So I must dig deeper and find answers or at least options to the situation. I have to find people to ask questions and books or articles to read then spend time thinking. I have to look back to gain perspective and points of reference then judge them with what I am learning and share insights with others.
I have said it before that I found it hard to look back and challenge everything. Why? It meant looking at things my parents and mentors taught me admitting some didn’t make sense. It meant seeing dysfunction in me and my family and dealing with it. It meant accepting that my people and I aren’t as perfect as we were seen or thought by those around us. It meant leaving relationships and conversations. It meant facing up to my inadequacies and admitting that I am not happy with my life. It meant accepting that this was on me and no one else. It was one of the hardest but most rewarding processes I had been through
In reality, it isn’t enough to just accept a way of living without question no matter who taught you. It isn’t enough to teach our children this is the way we do things without a background reason and expect compliance. It is unfair to expect them to accept our faith as blanket truth yet the said faith seems blind to injustice to others in the community. If we do this we set our children up for failure.
We must learn to ask questions and think though matters deeply. We must know that there are realities we will find that won’t fit our current perceptions of ourselves and they will shake us but that is part of growing. Asking questions will begin discussions that will in time change the national and global dynamic. It will ensure our faith isn’t based on just hearing charismatic speakers but also on personal prayer, meditation and devotion (Josh 1:8-9). A deliberate asking, seeking and knocking is the only way we as a people will change our lives, homes, neighbourhoods, cities, nations and the world (Matt 28:19).
We must understand why we do everything we do.