May 3, 2011

Life Lessons

The taking of a life has come up several times in our family lately.  You might think that's an odd recurring topic, but it's ranged from picking a flower to Osama Bin Laden.  A life is a life.  It's important to remember that - regardless of the circumstance.  When you pick a dandelion it is no longer connected to something it needs to survive.  It might not wilt and turn brown immediately, but you can't stop it from dying at that point.  It's not that I'm some sort of crazy pro-plant person, but even before picking a weed I think it's worth asking what it means to end that life.   And it's the same with bugs.

I'm not a huge insect fan.  Some of them are downright creepy, and I really do not want them in my house.  Some seem more acceptable than others; ladybugs are o.k., cockroaches are not!  There are these little black bugs all over the place right now.  I don't know where they come from but they always congregate around the foundations of buildings. You see these piles (literally them climbing all over each other) at the stores in the strip malls and such.  They are so weird and the kids always ask what they are doing.  I have no idea.  So not only are the kids drawn to look at them, but then the stomping starts.  What could be more fun than squishing hundreds of wriggling bugs?  They are going to die anyway.  Once a day a bug guy comes out with a shop vac and sucks them all up to be disposed of later.  Yet each time the kids start to stomp I ask them to think about how in one instant they go from being alive to not being alive.  This usually does not stop them, but sometimes they pause and decided to let them be.

Recently my step-FIL has asked if it's alright for Robotson to take a hunting safety class.  He's bought him a rifle and would like to take him hunting.  I have an opinion about hunters and hunting, but I want Robotson to make up his own mind.  Before we can even discuss the possibility of taking a class and getting a license, I want him to sit down with B and I so we can talk about what hunting means.  It's really easy to lose the significance of purposely looking for and trying to kill another living creature.  Does he understand what he'd be trying to kill?  How will he feel if he actually shoots it?  What if it doesn't die right away, but is hurt and suffering?  When it's dead, what next?  These are all important questions and then it still needs to be asked - do you really understand what it means to be dead?

I saw Annie from PhD in Parenting just wrote a post about talking to kids about Osama Bin Laden.  She asked what other parents were planning to tell their children, if anything at all.  All of our children were awake when the President made the announcement.  The girls were around the news, but they were playing.  I don't know how much they understood or even heard.  Robotson was listening and watching.  He knows some of the details around the 9/11 even though he was only nine months old at the time of the attacks.  I don't think I ever mentioned OBL specifically though.   When we explained that this was the man responsible for those airplanes crashing he didn't seem to immediately make the connection.  I think the idea is just too big.  At ten it's hard for him to imagine what happened that day even though he's seen pictures and video.  Those were all after the fact and could almost be viewed like a movie.  To him, it's not real.  So the importance of the death of the person responsible was also beyond his comprehension.  B and I only explained to him the facts that were known at the time of his death, and it hasn't come up again since.   I know eventually the kids will ask more questions and we'll be honest about what happened.  One day they might ask if killing him was the right thing to do, but I hope that I am teaching them to value life in all forms, repulsive or not.  So when they do ask, I hope it's because they've been thinking about it and they have their own ideas about the value of a life.  That's something I think they have to find a way to understand within themselves.

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