It’s Not The End of The World

It only lasts a few minutes, but it's gorgeous.

It only lasts a few minutes, but it’s gorgeous. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An idea has been rolling around my head all week. Many ideas have actually, making it hard to concentrate on much of anything. One of them, though, has been vexing me in particular and I have been struggling with how to write about it. With one day left to go, I figured I better get right on it.
I’ve written before about my general disdain for end of the world prophecies. That previous post discussed the laziness apocalyptic fantasies promote. What I did not discuss, what the tragedy in Sandy Hook last week, and my friend Aaron’s admonishment to his congregation about it, made me realize is there is another very good reason to check this loose talk about our (not likely) impending doom: our kids.
We spend so much time protecting our children from things we do not want them aware of for our own reasons that we seldom take time to protect them from things we don’t give a second thought about. A violent video game or TV show we can wrap our head around and lay blame with. We find ourselves so concerned with their effect on young people that we even have Congressional hearings about them. Yet we don’t take the time to moderate our own conversations around them.
Think of what it all must sound like to a child, this talk of the Mayan Apocalypse. Think of what these never-ending prophecies of rapture, the end times, or whatever else you want to call them do to the mind of a child, whether you are deadly serious or just joking about them. The world is so gigantic and small at the same time to a child. As adults we understand that all things must end, even the universe (though most educated folks agree that one be for at least another trillion years, probably more.) We understand our own mortality, even as we do not accept it.
A kid, however, cannot even imagine their own end, much less the end of everything and everyone they love. Their mom, their dad, their favorite toy, even (though most would never admit this out loud) their brothers and sisters, these are all permanent fixtures to them and you are telling them they are all going away. A child, even one in a very religious home, will have difficulty, at best, viewing this as a positive thing. A  little one will have a hard time telling if the adults around them are joking about it. It has to be scary for them.
I know I am asking for angry comments: “It’s my faith!”, “Why can’t you just take a joke?”, “I have the right to say what I want.” You are right, all of you. I am not questioning your faith, or your right to express yourself how you want. I am only asking you to exercise a small degree of common sense and self-control. Think about who might read or hear your words. Ask yourself what you might have felt when you were a child if you heard about this. Rights come with responsibilities, and while you also have a right to ignore them, doing so speaks poorly of your character. I know you are all kinder people than that. Please, prove me right.

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