Thursday, November 10, 2011

Interfaith conversation on the playground

Written yesterday; held off until I got my son's permission.

We had a loss in the family this week. My son found out just before going to school, and found himself explaining why he was crying at school. A brief conversation ensued. (Names changed, except for my son, David.)

He told me about it after school. It was a normal conversation to him. Everyone's conversations should go like this.

David: "I told Cody and Brandon about what happened."

Me: "And what did they say?"

David: "Cody said he was sorry for my loss, and that [insert religious belief here]."

Now, we talk about these things all the time, especially the last few days. David is enormously curious, compassionate, and opened-minded; which I think is a fantastic combination. He's changed his mind a million times on the Big Questions, which I also think is fantastic. I knew he did not believe this particular religious claim, at least today. He happens to think it's kind of silly. The Oh-no-what-did-you-say alarms started to go off in my head.

Me (in a deliberate, level voice): "Hmm. That's interesting."

David: "It is interesting! I think it's really interesting. But it's not true. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not true. I don't even know if I want it to be true, but it really doesn't make any sense to me. That's what I told Cody."

Me: "Oh? What exactly did you say to him?"

David: "Well, I just said 'Thank you. That is comforting. I don't really believe [religious belief] is true, but I think it's a nice story. Thanks for being so nice to me.'"

Me: "And what did he say to that?"

David: "He asked me why I thought that. I told him, and then I asked him if he was someone who thought anyone who has different opinions goes to Hell. He said, 'No; that's stupid. Everyone can have their own opinions.'"

Me: "I am really, really proud of both you and Cody. What happened next?"

David (shrugging): "Brandon told me a story about his dog dying. I think he was trying to be sympathetic, so I told him thank you. Then we all played kickball. Only WE use special rules..."

[Fifteen-minute soliloquy on special kickball rules omitted for brevity.]

Kids. They are freaking awesome.


Christina Wilsdon said... Best Blogger Tips

That's a lovely story. Such a reassuring change from those many adults who dismiss the idea that their religious outlook is one of many viewpoints and insist that it is simply The Truth and everything else is wrong, sinful, and stupid. (My own kid got badly picked on in 3rd grade when she revealed a differing outlook but the teacher stepped in wisely and wonderfully to talk with the kids about coexistence and respect, so it turned out to be a good experience after all.) Bravo to you son and his friend.

Proud Mama said... Best Blogger Tips

Kids really are cool. And I am sorry for your loss as well.

Kim Hosey said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, Christina. Kids have it right on this one, I think.

Thank you very much, Proud Mama. And yes. Kids are indeed cool.

Ryan Barlow said... Best Blogger Tips

your son is a lucky boy - please register him to vote asap.

RogersDave said... Best Blogger Tips

Kids are cool. It is adults that suck most of the time, and cause most of the problems.

Thanks for sharing this. I am actually showing this to my daughter.