2/11/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Carl S ~
Having passed the age of 70 not too long ago is like Voyager passing Saturn - way back when yet it seems like yesterday. Being young is only a matter of living like I always have, neither born again or born yesterday. Strangely, one of the ways this came about was quite by accident; I found out that that there were other ways of seeing things, and was willing to consider them, think about them. Ways outside of what I was taught to believe, viewpoints from many different individuals. The world opened up.
There's an admonition, for many, a commandment, "Unless you are born again . . . and become as these children, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." This was said by a famous cult leader. (Guess his intent.) Now, that kind of birth is like "born yesterday."
Childhood, whether a pleasant or onerous experience that you want to forget, is nevertheless, about discovering, trusting, learning by copying, adults. There's no escaping or choosing about these things; this just happens. The role models might be good or bad, in social terms, it doesn't matter, and it isn‘t long before the child figures out for himself just what is or is not fair. If you were reincarnated, i.e., "born again," this is how you'd begin. You might even start like most in a believing household, with parents who haven't grown up themselves.
If you watch nature documentaries, you'll notice that human childhood follows the same patterns as those of other intelligent animals, and some, not so intelligent. Only the environments and bodies are different, ergo the adaptations. Adults and siblings, both "good" and "bad," teach you what they know, what works for them and experience, to survive and make out in life. Welcome to reality and non-reality and no way to distinguish between the two, where fantasy, romance, tall tales and bravery sagas are stitched into the fabric of the everyday, swallowed whole. It takes real growing up to make the distinctions.
Growing up as a child, human or otherwise, entails trust and no trust. Skills are passed down thru generations, but many habits and customs not needed are too, like prayer. Things that just don’t work and never did become heirlooms and traditions.
Anyone considering being "born again" and becoming as a child should note that the chief requirements are a willingness to be gullible again and to refuse to grow up in conscience, to regress to a dependency. Obviously many find this very attractive and embrace it. No personal responsibility required, all in the past forgiven. Born again, all the newly acquired parent figures make the moral decisions for you. Along with this child dependency, one is treated as a child. (The believers don't notice this.)
Becoming a free adult means something like a teenaged rebellion: questioning, judgmentalism, sifting out what you’ve been told to find truth and falsehood. It means, sometimes, seeing things in black and white, going off in the wrong directions, and learning by mistakes. It requires an intolerance for bullshit.
In honest endeavors, what emerges is an independent, caring, responsible adult. Time after time, we see the results in the testimonies on this site. Religion hijacks part of the growing up process by training people to be trusting, gullible, obedient children who won't challenge church authority, making the environmental process second nature to their children, and keeping them from seeing that this is what's happening. Former adult consciences with the ability to reason morality out, make intelligent choices, normal in every other situation in life, are insulted via theology. It's one cost of not being willing to fully grow up.
Being grown up is healthy. I was there long before I became an adult, as was the boy who pointed out that the emperor is naked. Why, in the past three years alone, I'm learning more and more. Fantastic information about the truths of evolution, Epicurus' philosophy of life, that Mars once had river, that Jupiter's atmosphere is over 40,OOO miles deep, that stars are maintained by a balance of fusion and gravity, and that scientists have the curiosity, enthusiasm, honesty, of little children. What have my believing friends learned, in denial of evolution, disinterestedness in science learned, except to believe what they're told, and to obey? Have they ever asked themselves, after reading of a child or formerly healthy man's "courageous battle with cancer" and death, why a heavenly deity would not, as I, decide, "Hell, anyone that courageous surely has earned the right to life. Let's let him live?" Hell, even a nonchalant observer would come to that conclusion.
That's another problem with being a child: the believer child wants it all. A deity who is cruel yet a loving father? Life and eternal life? Sin as much as you like, hurt others, be a criminal and all is forgiven, welcome to forever raptures, no suffering? Justification for genocide? You've got it, and don't try to understand it, trust and believe. Belief is your only real responsibility. You've got it all, baby. Even if you end up in prison or on death row, you're forgiven. That's childlike.
Well, here's a poem I wrote in 1994, and it's here because a lay teacher from a catholic school read it and told me, "May I have this? I've been trying to say these things to my high school class?"
Take It From Here
When you were a child
You thought as a child.
Be not a child forever.
Let your mind and thoughts
And leave behind restraints
In ancient cobwebbed citadels.
The mind renew.
Old faith had taken roots
In tradition, grown in fear
And in ignorance.
Be but a child forever
And let your very being
Taste and touch
See and hear
Far deepness of the sea
And outreach vastness of infinity.
See fish and ocean depths
The turbulence of Jupiter
And baby breathing in the womb.
New ideas being born.
Each day's creations.
New found facts.
Be but a child of wonder.
Unearthing from the neutron to the stars.
And realize that knowledge is your toy
Reality your tools.