(Originally posted on 3/21/16)
It’s not wise to obey the law.
That headline ought to get your attention! But I don’t mean that we should simply go about breaking the law. I mean “It’s not wise to simply obey the law.” Simply obeying the law is simply being law-abiding. It’s doing something simply because some one said so. “Because it says so” is not a wise reason to follow any rule, unless the some one stating the rule is simply bigger than you are – because they intentionally use being bigger than you as the legitimacy for the law. There are other words to describe someone who does that: “bully” and “parent” are two that I can think of quickly.
Yes, parent. Some parents. Simple parents. Lazy parents. Tired parents. Parents who go through the list of all the names (including the pets’) when flustered beyond reason – you all know what I mean, from one side and/or the other. Parenting is tough. It’s a more-than-full-time-job. If one is raising children (or pets, smiley-face), one is never not “on the clock.” Unless one is not relying on “because I said so (and I’m bigger than you are),” and instead is teaching understanding of why I say so. Another word for that is “thinking”. Thinking for yourself. Wisdom, being wise, is thinking and understanding the why behind the law. (“Actually, they’re more like guidelines, argh”.)
And these days, that’s a skill that’s simply not being taught so much. (IMHO, of course.)
Case in point: myself. And I love my parents. I miss them. We just passed the 8th anniversary of my mom’s passing. I believe they did their best, but kids are tough on parents, especially the kids who always have to know why. Why? Because. Why? You’ll understand later – when you’re older. But why!? Because I Said So! I’m one such kid. Still.
Because I think we never got around to the “later”. Maybe it was my mom’s tragic flaw, to be over-protective and controlling. To be a “because I said so” parent. Literally, it’s only been since her passing that I started truly living in an understanding way.
I remember being mad at her once, so I bought my first pack of cigarettes. (Note, I was old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes = ~18?) I remember sitting on the front steps, smoking, when my friend, Larry, came by; ‘what’s new?’ And I remember showing him the smoke like, ‘look what she’s made me do!’ And that attitude/behavior didn’t stop for 30+ years. It took that long for me to work up the courage to act out what I really felt that day: “if you’re going to control my life – if I’ve been so trained to let you control, to simply, blindly follow what you say are the rules – even though those rules might be right and good – then I don’t want to live and I’m going to destroy myself by obsessively looking for good feelings and simply not getting caught breaking the rules.” My mom passed away in March, 2008. Months later I tried to follow her.
What could have been different, you ask? (Note: you’re asking because this is the whole point of today’s post.) What if, instead of that simply self-destructive, rebellious attitude towards what I perceived as simply “her way”, I had been taught to think “x, y, z, is the right way because of ____”? What if, instead of “don’t do this, because I said so”, I’d been taught to think “doing this is right because ____”? What if I’d been taught reading, writing, ‘rithmetic, and rightness? How?
Who knows what I’m going to say next?
If you knew “The Bible” is the answer, you win and get to skip the rest of the article. (But please keep reading!)
Proverbs 4:1 Children, listen to your Father’s teaching. Pay attention and you will learn how to learn.
:4 My Father taught me this: “Pay attention to what I say. Obey my commands and you will have good life.”
The proverb doesn’t end there! But I think that’s where my mom’s instruction stopped.
:5 Try to get wisdom and understanding… :7 The first step to becoming wise is to look for wisdom, so use everything you have to get understanding.
IOW, to know to look for the why – and to know how to look. It’s not an intuitive skill. At least, it wasn’t for me. Dare I say, it doesn’t seem to be common sense for many of us humans? (You know I do so dare.)
[Insert rant about today’s educational priorities, which constantly and consistently seek to remove Western Civilization’s moral and ethical foundation.] All that to say, “The Bible – apart from explaining the Creator’s law – teaches us to think for ourselves – if we actually read it, study it. Even if we go to church (which I did), Sunday school (is that like CCD? which I did), and hear the Bible (which I did), I never read the whole thing until a year or two ago, and I certainly never studied it like I studied (any subject in public school or even Catholic high school); like I study it these days. Every day. For at least 30 minutes.
Romans 6:11 In the same way you should see yourselves as being dead to the power of sin and alive for God through Christ Jesus.
Knowing this verse then, might’ve kept me from buying those cigarettes.