Our children live in a world that is increasingly complex and confusing. Age old beliefs are not only being challenged, but foundational beliefs and the people who hold to them are being attacked. One such belief is that individuals who participate in same sex relationships should be viewed by others as practicing “normal” sex. If others, who believe otherwise, hold the opinion that this practice is abnormal and harmful, they are called “homophobic”, bigots, prejudiced, or worse.
In a free society with laws and other means to solve disagreements between individuals such behavior should be rare. But this is not always the case. It seems today that individuals want the freedom to decide what is right or wrong for themselves and to impose their conclusion on others. If you disagree, you are the “bad” guy. If you disagree you are called names and attacked.
Since our children must live in this “new” world, it becomes important for parents to teach their children that no matter how many names they are called, they have a right to cling to their beliefs. They should be taught to solve problems without resorting to name calling or violence. Parents should teach their children that name calling and violence are forms of behavior that do more harm to themselves then to the individuals that they attack.
If our children can accept this approach, the America of the future will have a citizenry that accepts the idea that discrimination and/or violence will never build stable social or political organizations.
How can we teach our children this concept when we now have war going on? It is a war of ideas that can only be won with logic, reason, and commitment to a belief system based on natural moral beliefs and principles. Because it is a war of words, deceit, and distortions it is a war more insidious and difficult to win then any war fought in history.
Let me elaborate a little more. Today, if one makes statements evaluating or stating one’s opinions about another person’s belief or behavior you are considered intolerant or worse, a bigot. Today if you state, in a non-violent and respectful manner your belief , that homosexuality is an unnatural and/or socially unacceptable practice, you will be attacked in some manner. It is as if a statement of this nature labels one forever as an obstructionist, a religious bigot, a person stuck in the past, an unreasonable individual, a person totally blind to another’s rights, etc.
What can we do when this occurs? How can we teach our children to handle such attacks? How can we explain why this is happening? How can we help them realize that they have a right to express their opinion even if others disagree?
In this war of words, this war of ideas, it is not uncommon to pity the person under attack. If the idea of homosexuality is under attack and the methods used are seen by society as inappropriate, i.e. name calling and violence, then it is normal to pity the homosexual. No one deserves to be disrespected or treated cruelly. But to conclude that homosexuality is an accepted lifestyle because homosexuals are victims is not logical. Yet, this is what we are asked to believe.
Let’s use another example. If a person in the bank steals money from the bank and someone threatens to punch them in the nose and calls them names like cheater, thief, no-count, we do not automatically accept stealing as a legitimate life style because people who steal are harassed, threatened, or condemned. It does not change our belief that stealing is unacceptable behavior. We do not attack the person who belief stealing is wrong by calling them a bigot or thiefaphomic.
As we teach our children how to discern reality in this war on words it is important to help them understand that there are natural, unalterable truths and values that have existed for centuries. We must teach them that we have established a political and social system based on these truths. We must teach them that, as a result, we never have a right to use harassing behavior, threatening statements, or disrespectful verbal condemnation of others. But we must also teach them that they have a right to express and/or defend, in a cordial and non-violent manner, their own values and beliefs. We must teach them that even though groups or individuals may become the victims of threats or harassment, they are not automatically to be embraced.
We must teach our children that the reality of others does not have to be their reality. We must teach them that we do not have to agree with others to love them. We must teach them that defending the freedom of others to believe as they choose is the best way to protect our personal freedom to believe as we choose.