Antiquarian Anabaptist

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: responsibility

Reality, Respect, Responsibility

A modest proposal to revitalize the education system

1. Reality

Education should be geared towards teaching children how to think, not what to think. This means equipping them to be literate, numerate and articulate. Those are the fundamental skills that will enable them to learn everything else they will need to learn in life. Children should master these skills at each level before moving on to the next level. Teachers who are unable to teach these skills may be social facilitators, but they are not teachers.

Great self-esteem may help you get a job, but won’t help you do the job. Self esteem without work skills will leave you unemployed and feeling the world has let you down.

2. Respect

Twenty-five years ago a co-worker mentioned that her high school daughter had come home and said that her teacher had told the class that it would be best if they didn’t tell their parents what they had talked about in class that day, “They might not understand.” It told me a lot about that mother’s relationship with her daughter that her daughter did tell her. It also told me a lot about that teacher’s lack of respect for parents.

Children are being taught in school not to respect the values of their parents or the historic values of most of the people of our country. That does not bode well for the future of those children in the work place and in society. It does not bode well for the future of our society.

The best and most natural environment for the development of children is a home with a father and mother, preferably the same father and mother all through their growing up years. Evidence shows that children from such homes grow up emotionally healthy and stable and make more useful contributions to the society they live in. Teachers, and the whole educational establishment, need to respect the home and its values. Then parents could also respect educators.

3. Responsibility

A child should not be protected from the consequences of his or her actions. Blaming someone else will not lead to a better outcome the next time. They should know that they are accountable for their school work and their conduct.

But children are not identical peas in a pod. There are differences in learning abilities and in learning styles. Parents and teachers should try to learn what works and what does not work with each child. The child should be accountable for doing the best that he or she can.

My wife has a younger sister who never learned to speak clearly and never did well in school. The school had a speech therapist and other resource personnel, but this girl was passed on from grade to grade with only minimal attempts made to help her. Her home situation was deplorable. We lived several thousand miles away. One time when we were home on vacation my wife tried to help her sister make the sounds that she did not say distinctly. I heard her begin to enunciate them more clearly. But we were soon gone and neither the home nor the school was any help.Her adult life has been miserable. We wonder if some intensive one on one help might not have made a big difference. Why does a school have these “experts” if they are not responsible to do that?

Reality, respect, responsibility. I have only brushed the surface, but I feel that much of the malaise in our educational system is due to the neglect of these principles. And far too much emphasis on things that do nothing to prepare children for real life.

Advertisements

Cultural perspectives on youth and old age

Closely related to the North American orientation toward the future is the strong emphasis on youth. This can be seen in commercial advertising and entertainment — the old are rarely represented. At work the young are often thought to be more active and productive, and to hold more promise than do the elderly, despite their experience and sense of responsibility.

There are few attempts to involve the aged in the mainstream of the society. Once they retire, they are viewed as having little to contribute. And when they can no longer care for themselves, they are often placed in nursing homes, isolated from their offspring and cared for by non relatives.

This emphasis on youth is the exception rather than the rule around the world. In most societies old people are viewed positively as wise and experienced. They are shown respect, given places of honour and consulted about family and community decisions. There is no retirement from public life. In fact, retirement as we conceive of it now is a twentieth-century phenomenon found mainly in the west.

Paul G Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries © 1985 by Baker Books.

The liberation of men

A young lady who worked in a doughnut shop found that she was pregnant. She was only 19, living on her own, working to support herself. She had already had an abortion at 15, her parents pressured her into it because she was too young for the responsibility of motherhood. That memory was painful and she did not want to have another abortion. But she didn’t have enough education for a better job, how could she support herself and a child? She finally chose to have a second abortion.

A young lady came in to register at the food bank one day when I was volunteering there. She was attractive, neatly dressed, well spoken – probably better educated than the first young lady. She had moved in with her boyfriend, expecting it to be a long term arrangement, but when they found a baby was on the way the young man disappeared. She was raising the child on her own and could hardly make ends meet.

The contraceptive pill and easy access to abortion were heralded as means of setting women free. Have they really? But it does certainly seem that men have been liberated — set free from worrying about the responsibilities of being husbands or fathers.

Doesn’t it seem that since our society has separated sex from responsibility, men’s attitudes towards women have become more and more degraded? Women may get more respect in the working world and in politics, but in personal relationships it seems there is much less. Violence against women continues to increase.

Homeless children, children who don’t dare go home, and children who are part-timers in two different homes, are increasing in number. Most of the troubled youth in our society have never really had a father. Schools and social service agencies are trying to cope with the problem, but they can never accomplish what a real father could do.

The nuclear family, with both a father and mother, is the ideal natural setting for children to grow up into responsible, mature adults. Of course, there have always been homes that were less than ideal, some were quite awful in fact. That is not an argument for the abolition of the family. It is an argument for better parents.

It is also an argument for the Christian faith and the church. It is a wonderful thing when the parents of the friends of your children are your friends and you can trust that they have the same hopes and ideals as you have for their children. Children grow up knowing they are loved and respected. They feel secure, they learn better in school, they trust there will be answers for their problems. They learn to be responsible, and responsive to the needs of others.

Far too many young adults today have no experience of a stable, trusting home life. In all probability, none of their friends do either. Is this really liberty? Does it look like they are happy?

The world today is beginning to look a lot like the world in which the Christian church was first born. Acts 1:19 give the number of believers before Pentecost as about 120. If it was possible for that small group to grow and “turn the world upside down,” is it impossible to think that it could happen again? For that to happen we will have to trade in our liberty for responsibility.

No fault parenting versus no excuse parenting

This is a story of two young boys. The first came from a stable, two parent family; the second from a home where the father had left for parts unknown. Boy Number 1 has an advantage, don’t you think? Well, let’s see.

Boy Number 1 takes a jackknife to school one day, the teacher sees him playing with it and confiscates it. The next day, Dad, who happens to be a police officer, comes storming into school and threatens criminal charges if the knife isn’t returned. The teacher meekly returns the knife.

Boy Number 2, who tends to be hyperactive, acts up a little too much on the school bus and the driver makes it known that he cannot ride the bus until he promises to stop being so disruptive. Mom could have cried discrimination because of her son’s ADHD, or she could have simply decided to drive him to school herself. She did neither; she told her son: “I guess this means you’re walking to school from now on.”

The next day she got him ready early enough to walk the two miles and get to school on time. She walked with him and walked home with him at the end of the school day. The next morning they walked to school again. Then she asked, “Do you want to walk home again this afternoon?” “No,” he replied, “I think I’ve learned my lesson.”

Some years have passed. At last report, Boy Number 1 is in prison. Boy Number 2 has learned a trade and is doing just fine..

How old are you?

What does it mean to be grown up? When we were little we thought it meant that we would be able to do anything we wanted to do and no one would stop us. Most of us eventually figured out that life doesn’t work that way. A few people don’t appear to ever quite get it and are often heard airing their grievances. Like the firemen in Montréal who trashed city hall and can’t figure out why they were fired for it.

Or like King Saul in the Old Testament who told Samuel “I have sinned, but honour me before the people.” David, on the other hand, was never too big to own up to his sins and accept the consequences. Being willing to acknowledge our mistakes and our sins is perhaps the ultimate evidence of maturity.

The New Testament describes maturity in several ways: “speaking the truth in love,” (the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:15); having “the senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14); growing “in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:18); and being child-like in malice but adults in understanding (the apostle Paul again in 1 Corinthians 14:20).

The thought that I glean from those verses, and others throughout the Bible, is that maturity consists of being responsible for our own actions. It won’t do to say “but he pushed me first!” or “nobody told me it was wrong.” The Bible does seem to make some allowance for ignorance, but that does not make ignorance a virtue and we should never use it as an excuse.

The Bible teaches that girls and women should be modest in clothing and appearance. Beauty does not lie in the things that one puts on, but in the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Maturity in a woman is to give much more attention to this inner beauty than to outward beauty.

Nevertheless, even if a woman is dressed provocatively, or even indecently, a man is accountable for how he reacts. A man is responsible for what he does, or he is not a man at all. Job said “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). If we find it impossible to do the same, we are not really grown up.

Be Perfect

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect . . . (1 Corinthians 2:6).
Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (2Timothy 3:17).

The Bible admonishes us to be perfect and seems to assume that a well-grounded Christian is perfect.  What was God thinking?  It is impossible for us to live without ever making an unkind remark when we are frustrated and impatient or without making even worse mistakes.

A little searching reveals that the original meaning of perfect, when speaking of things, is complete, or finished.  When speaking of people it means mature, adult, fully-grown.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).  In the margin of the Cambridge Reference Bible “perfect” is given as an alternate reading for “of full age.”

I once spent a morning as an observer in a Montreal criminal court.  The first case involved a young couple, dressed hippy-style, who were charged with smashing a store window and stealing some items.  Their lawyer asked for a one week delay to give his clients time to make restitution, and then they would return and plead guilty.  I wish I could have observed what transpired the following week, but I suspect that if they followed through on those commitments they probably got off with a suspended sentence and a recommendation to “Go and sin no more”.

Next up was a young man charged with break and enter.  His lawyer portrayed his client as an innocent man who was led into this compromising situation by a friend.  The judge didn’t buy it.  The young man went to jail.

A perfect man is one who accepts responsibility for his own actions.  He makes mistakes, but does not try to blame them on others, on circumstances, on his upbringing, his temperament or psychological state of mind, or on any other excuse that may present itself as an escape route.

When we stand before the judge of all mankind, excuses and explanations will be of no value.  The perfect man is one who realizes this today and acts accordingly.

%d bloggers like this: