No safety- just trust.

Do you know that more people die every year as a result of injuries sustained from falling coconuts than die from shark attacks? (see here)

Life is like that. We stay out of the water because we’re afraid- but there’s danger on the beach as well. We head inland to be very safe and forget about the earthquakes and volcanoes. We bunker up in our houses just to die when the roof collapses. I’m not trying to scare you (well, maybe a little) but I do want you to think about the reality of life. Life, so many times, equals risk. Especially when it comes to our children. We warn them about shark attacks, we brace and terrify them, so they don’t want to go to the beach. We try to prepare them for the dangers we envision, but in doing so we only trigger fear of some things. So often the dangers we ourselves see may seem bigger and scarier than the dangers they are encountering-

But just remember. It’s not the sharks we have to worry about, it’s those damn coconuts.

Take, for example, homosexuality. A lot of Christians see homosexuals as sharks in the water. So they train their kids to mock effeminate boys- thus planting foul seeds in their hearts. Maybe a good Evangelical man discovers his own son is a little effeminate, so he tries to get rid of the danger by teaching the son to be gruff and macho, engaging him in sports and teaching him about the masculine art of heterosexual conquest. Perhaps the father things he is bracing the son against danger. But what about the frail flower of potential in that child? Not ever man is born to be a beer-drinking fart-letting gruff woman conquerer. Some men are shy and withdrawn, sensitive and sweet, and there is nothing wrong with that. So what happens when, in the process of bracing our children against sharks, we ourselves are lobbing coconuts?

Then, there’s the fact that sometimes we are so distracted by the potential for danger that we ignore the fires already burning. We may warn our children away from people we see as dangerous just to lump them in with ones that are worse. I can’t count the times that parents have forced their kids away from non-Christian friends just to send them to youth groups where all the kids were sexually active and spurned mentorship by their elders. This world is a dangerous place- one can never assume safety.

Sin is out there. Coconuts are dangerous.

So what do we do? We ought to teach our kids critical thinking. We should teach them to evaluate, in every situation, the potential for good as well as harm. We should teach them not about the life we DON’T want them to live, but the life we DO want them to live. Teach them not to swim with sharks but to enjoy the ocean, teach them to live with hope, light and love. We shouldn’t bathe them in the negativity of warning signs and derision for those we deem unworthy, but instead teach them that in everyone there is potential for great good and not a single soul should live without being passionately loved.

There is no safety in this world, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be love and trust. The beach may be fraught with danger, but it is still beautiful. So we teach our children to see the beauty but to be sensible about danger. It’s my personal opinion that the beauty is more important. Imagine if, one day, no one went to any beaches. They didn’t paint the sunsets over the water, they didn’t eat fruit out of their hands and lick the juice from their fingers, if one day everyone stopped hearing the sound of the surf against the pier and seeing the crabs scuttle by.

Imagine we all just stayed home, watching the television, as a single gull cry died on the air, unheard.

There’d probably be an earthquake.

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11 thoughts on “No safety- just trust.

  1. I have such strong feelings on this subject. Id like to respond to your various points if I may.

    First of all, there are no guarentees in life. I was a perfectly healthy woman my entire life. One morning I woke up and I had a rare brain disease. That was it. Done. Life changed forever. No warning. Nothing happened. It just was. No coconuts even to blame. God has a plan for your life.

    Krishna sat under the Bodhi Tree, and a branch fell from it and hit him on the head. It caused him to stop being a selfish Prince and seek God. He gave up his thrown and set out to live a Godly life and help others and spread God’s word. Still no coconuts.. but close enough.

    So called Christians who force their children to be manly men and stiffle their gayness hurts not only them, but their future families. They cause pain to the women they marry, the children they might have, the lovers that they might take on and of course to the child. God loves us unconditionally. It is so wrong and it is so sad. Which is more of a sin I wonder?

    Swimming with sharks is a good metaphor for life. You have to learn to do it. You will be doing it your entire life. You learn how to handle them. A good punch in the nose will send a shark on its way. It teaches you your own personal power. There will be many sharks in your life. Its how you learn to deal with them that is important rather than their presence. At the beach, you simply get out of the water when one is sighted. Simple.

    Sharks at the beach are the least of your worries. Its the sharks in life and learning to deal with them that will pose far more of a challenge.

    God gives us all of this beauty. The coconut gives nourishment along with a bump in the head. You have to learn to work with the system of nature and God. God makes everything perfect… and everyone perfect exactly as they are supposed to be.

  2. I love this post. Tash and I discuss having kids often and I’ve always said I don’t want my children growing up naive of the world around them, and at the same token I don’t want my children to believe me naive to the changing world either.

  3. Y’know, I have to point out that not all heterosexual men fit the broad stereotypes there. Nor do all homosexual men.

    They might have some degree of truth, but as you’ve pointed out before, it’s more of a cultural one.

    Whether or not folks follow the path I do, I think it is good to point out, “Eh, you are really not all that different from other folks of your gender. They have the same worries, concerns, and doubts as you do.”

    People argue WAY too much over the validity of strong gender roles. That ain’t the issue. We should be encouraging men and women to see that yes, they do fit in, and there is a place for them in this world.

    The war between evangelicals/”fundamentalists” and gay activists rages on, sadly. It is sad because, unfortunately, both sides have spread misinformation about the other– straining at gnats and swallowing camels. I don’t give a lab rat’s furry white butt who insulted whom first. The question is, how can I avoid contention, and make peace? It is a question I ask myself often.

  4. Sigh. I wish our culture was not so hung up on certain behaviors and personality traits as being automatically “masculine” or “feminine,” let alone defining certain things as “gay.” I’ve known quite a few straight men who were anxious because they feared people would perceive them as gay, due to their interest in the arts, etc. etc.

    And t-shirt and jeans-wearing me found out last week that a columnist for the New York Observer has had a revelation: that there are straight women who like to dress this way!!! So now, in her mind, I’m an “urbane tomboy.” Go figure, because I never have been the tomboyish type… I just like wearing jeans & t-shirts.

    And so on.

  5. Amber: Thank you, sincerely. I have so much to say, but I need to process it first.
    Tony: It’s a fine balance.
    Jaklumen: I was using the gender stereotypes against themselves- I think it’s wrong for men to have such expectations of what “manliness” is. In my mind it’s more manly for a father to love his shy, quiet, opera-loving son than to make him play football.
    (another) Wendy: Thank you.
    e2c: I always think of CS Lewis’s portrayal of the “beings” in Perelandra– “Masculine without being male, feminine without being female”- these traits are much larger than our understanding of them.

  6. This was a wonderful, thought provoking post Shush. I’ve seen otherwise loving, God fearing people plant the seed of hate in their children. Hate those people, they’re different, they’re homosexual.

  7. In my mind it’s more manly for a father to love his shy, quiet, opera-loving son than to make him play football.

    You got it. I know someone who is the “primary caregiver” for his 2-year-old son, due to his wife’s work schedule vs. his work schedule. It’s a kick to see the two of them together – something that’s still rare, but not as unusual as it was a few decades back.

  8. Ah – I should add that I’m equally puzzled as to why the NY Observer columnist things jeans, t-shirts, sneakers and hoodies identify people as lesbians. That seems both stupid and very, very much a stereotype, right along the lines of “All [X] people look alike.”

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