There are times when, as a parent, you have to set your ideas aside and let your child experience and learn things on their own. It is very hard to tuck in your opinions of a matter and not say things that would encourage or discourage choices your child might make.
My oldest has an opportunity to go on a missionary trip this year to Globe, Arizona. He is going to participate in fund raisers such as a chili cook off, bake sales, rent a kid and babysitting, and that part I have absolutely no issue over. They are even going to go work on the reservation. No issues there either.
My personal issue is with the “spreading the word” component of the entire trip.*
Religions, in my opinion, are a wonderful thing. It gives a society a basis of common ground so people can interact. It gives comfort when life throws curve balls and a supportive entity in the body of a community. It is the basis of laws that a society lives by. But it is also a place where great friction can occur.
With such different views in between even Christian views – and there is, I have seen it, heard it and had it shoved in my face – contention is likely. Even in my small community it is interesting to see a new family move in. Before the boxes are unpacked, there is a line at the door of “new neighbors” wanting to invite them to church. The new family bounces around like a pinball before settling, or not as some cases maybe, into a church.
And those of us who chose not to? About once a week, I get pounced upon by people who my kids go to church with about visiting on Sunday. Or getting an invitation in the mail for Bible study. Or having a flyer waved in my face about the next revival. You would think that after 15 years of living here, they’d take the hint.
I have some very strong moral delimas to what most of these churches teach. Mostly the My way is the only way mentality. I believe in choice, and if you make a wrong one you have to pay for it. I believe that there is much more than the white bread way of life in this little community. I believe that people can and SHOULD share ideas.
There is very little of that being taught, and I wonder how this missionary trip is being presented to my oldest. Is he being pushed into believing that Christianity is the only way? Or is he being shown that people are made up of many different viewpoints and this mission is about giving people a choice?
They are going into a very impoverished reservation where these people have a very established religion. It is probably quite far from the Christian views that he has seen and while my kids and I aren’t living the high life, we probably have things much better than most of these people.
I think it will be an eyeopener to see people so impoverished. It will be good for him to see an entirely different lifestyle. They will only be there two days, but I hope it will show him how lucky his is in some respects.
Before he goes, I do plan on explaining more about Native religions, how long they have been around and how difficult it is for these people to hang on to their way of life. If he wants to learn more, then I do have friends I can send him to. I hope to begin going back to the Pow-Wows this summer, where, if he wants he can see how religions combine into a new entity. But I do hope that he learns that religions should not be exclusive, but inclusive to many different ideas and cultures.
However, I wonder if he expects for the people of the reservation to turn, just because he is presenting them with a choice. Will he be disappointed or will he succeed?
*Quick Disclaimer: I was raised Catholic. I live in a very Christian area. However, I do not go to any church, nor advocate any religion. I have my own path and my own agreement with whatever higher powers are out there.