slideshow widget

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Learning from our past

Sometimes I wonder whether to orate my thoughts and opinions to my children, or if it's better to lead by example. While I do believe most of the time it's best to teach by example, I've learned that sometimes it's good to find the right moment to let your children know what you believe.

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as emblems on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
I remember my mom would find a right moment to talk to us kids. Once there was an episode of Facts of Life (yeah, we did watch that silly show as kids) where one of the girls had a boyfriend who wanted to do it. And then mom took the opportunity to give us a pithy talk about the importance of respecting your body, and only giving yourself to someone you truly love.

The commercial was over and that was the end of it. And I might have thought nothing of what she was saying right then, yet later when the moment came up, I could hear mom's words in the back of my head. While it's hard to really know for sure, moments like that are what prevented me from taking a wrong path, and lead me to where I am today.

That is what Asaph talks about in Psalm 78 (1-8). He discusses that it is important for parents to take the time to educate their kids about virtues. It is not good enough to just assume your children are learning virtues the way you learned them. There comes a time when you should stop and say what you believe.

Yet too often, Asaph writes, we think we teach our kids by assumption. If virtues are going to be passed on from one generation to the next, it is up to parents to relay these virtues. It is up to parents to teach about the past, so that the future generations do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

I think this was done from about 1976 to 1960 in the U.S., but then the hustle and bustle of life has made it so parents no longer have the time, and don't take the time to relay these messages. I think this is the reason that virtuous people are on the decline. There are few among us today who would say that Americans are more virtuous today than we were when our parents were kids.

And, as I've written before, this might be one of the main reasons for all the troubles we now face in America and the rest of the world. We did not teach the lessons, such as the lesson of the Tower of Babel, or the parables such as the Parable of the Seeds.

In a way, it may be their fault. Thankfully my parents took the time to sit with my brothers and me. Yet there are many among us who work two jobs, or who grow up in single parent families. While the intent might be good, these parents don't (or didn't) have the time to sit down with their kids to relay the message about the importance of virtues.

And it is for this reason that values have declined.



No comments: