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 Some men are shy and withdrawn, sensitive and sweet, and there is nothing wrong with that.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.