the only easy day was yesterday

Friday, August 10, 2007

Of what avail is the proud outcry?

Lately I've been reflecting on how I've gotten to where I am now in terms of political views, morality, and identity (among other things). Throughout my life I've been free to come to a lot of conclusions on my own (regarding the aforementioned aspects of me). My parents have not been overly dogmatic, which I think has allowed me to reach my unique positions. However, here is my conflict. How will I allow for my future children's intellectual independence, when I myself will have come across beliefs (in the realm of politics, morality, and identity...) which I will wish that they carry on to the next generation?

ex. If I push Yiddishism on them, will they reject it in adolescence and accept assimilation? In the same thread, if I let them form opinions on their own, and their views end up differing from my own, I will still lose (in regard to what I have believed to be "right").

My Mom's Dad, was an orthodox Jewish immigrant from Poland (via Cuba, where he was a Rabbi). He kept a kosher house, however when his children (my mom and two uncles) left that household as adults, they embraced non-kosher food immediately, which translated to their respected children (well at least 8/9 of them). Among my Mom and Uncles there was that need to rebel following years of "repression"(?).

Surely the next generation should benefit from the accumulated "knowledge" of the previous, but also be able to make new realizations on their own. Should not these new realizations be based on a solid foundation from the previous generation?...but then how will that previous generation dilute its dogmatism (as to not inspire rebel behavior among the youth)?


1 comment:

Jasper Yate said...

This is actually something that I've given some thought to before and come up with a concrete answer of my own.

My answer comes in the form of a way to treat your child that will hopefully answer the question of what to do with the beliefs that you yourself have accumulated.

First off, I hold the firm belief that there is no ultimate truth, no ultimate consciusness, no ultimate right, no ultimate beauty, and that beliefs in such 'absolutes' can only have a negative impact on the human community and the individual (emotionally and psycologically). I support the notion - that I sorta made up myself, at least I never heard it used before, let alone in the sense that I use it - of intellectual independence. By this I mean that each person, in so long as he or she can support that they came to their beliefs and morality in a way that we would agree upon as intelligent and objective, than that person has every right to his morality, and that I, or any other person, have no right to tell he/she that they are wrong. Intelligent discussion and respectful debate are always welcome and acceptable, but emphatic rejection of ideas and morals that have been reasonably discovered by an individual human mind is dispicable and ignorant.

The way that I propose to raise a child, in light of these beliefs, becomes, not simple, but a very structured system. Give the child freedom and choice, but place the ideas of intelligence and morality and reason in his path.

For example, a few weeks ago my mothers friend was in a situation with her daughter where her daughter was drinking, but she wanted to respect the trust she had in her daughter while still preventing her in participating in drinking alcohol. Given my belifs on this which we don't need to go over again, I was in for this discussion. What I said was - and this I think can be applied to most disciplinary problems for children - that she should present her daughter (who is 14) with an appropriate and well rounded set of beliefs on this subject (some supporting, some rejecting) and give her the opportunity to make her own mature and intelligent decision and present it as such. If the child can give an answer that seems well thought out and respectable than you have no choice but to respect it - whether it goes against what you believe or with it - but if he/she gives a cop-out answer that seems only to be attempting to skate around the issue then, and only then, is when I think discipline should be used.

It is allowing your child to objectively come up with his own set of beliefs and morals, just as you have been. You can provide him or her with information and intelligent information about all sorts of things, including your belief system, but it is important that it learns to be objective and reasonable. I sorta see it like treating a child's mind like you treat your own mind when learning something completely new; educate it with all available sources and views on the topic and let your previous knowledge and beliefs decide what you think.

This is something I take rather seriously because it seems to be a way which can lead people ot become more intellectuially independent, which to me is among the better places that we can find ourselves as a people.