I think it was Neruda who once said – and I paraphrase – “I don’t carry around a dogma under my arm to drop it on someone’s head.”
I too am fluid. I don’t care to impose my ideology, belief system, or lifestyle on anyone.
And I reject those who do. And I reject those unsubstantiated monologues.
My father was raised pretty much by a single mother who lacked the knowledge, wisdom, and will to impose both good values and constraints on him. So consequently he led his early life doing pretty much what he pleased. He therefore made lots of mistakes.
And growing up under his roof, I too consequently made a lot of mistakes; but – for which I shall point out – for completely different reasons. And ironically my father became a harsh disciplinarian; the antithesis of his upbringing.
My chief mistakes centered around questioning everything including authority. I was not just a true product of my times (the ’60s) but I was also a very curious boy.
The chief punishment in those days – at least in my family – was additional chores (as in lots of additional chores) and spending hours, days, often weeks confined to my bedroom. But I should also point out that there was a significant amount of physical punishment; that was one of the harsh legacies of the early post-WWII period.
The confinement – apart from missing hanging out with my friends – wasn’t all that bad. I was an avid reader (still am) and I was the only kid I knew who knocked out most of the 19th century Russian classics by the age of 15.
In time I became a father. And unlike mine, I was a slightly more mature 32 as compared to my father’s 23. I also had a university degree (electrical engineering) so I think it is fair to say I was still considerably more curious about the world than people like my father.
And I got the answer to my prayers – a daughter, who in my eyes became my absolute object of adoration. I remember spanking her only once. Her tears were ones of outrage: not of pain, shame or embarrassment. Her reaction so profoundly affected me that I never spanked her again.
Even though divorced and burdened with the whole court ordered child custody agreement thing of every other weekend, we managed to have a wonderful relationship which lasts to this day.
Over the years I didn’t burden her with my ideologies. I learned somewhere along the way that children don’t necessarily listen to your lectures but more as a matter of fact watch what you do. Children are very keen to sniff out hypocrisy.
To shift topics slightly, I remember remarking to my neighbor, Max that I didn’t care specifically what comprised his personal belief system (he is somewhat hung up on self-help books, nihilism and Nietzsche of all people) but I said in conclusion that I had but one single qualification. Anyone who feels the need to air their personal belief system in a public place should be able to defend their premises.
Me? I’m a Christian. Can I defend my belief system? Absolutely. Why/how? Because I’ve not just read the book – I’ve studied the book. How does my belief system conflict with my science background? It doesn’t. Why? Because it turns out that properly studied, Christianity is an incredibly rational belief system.
Do I proselytize my faith? Absolutely not. I believe it was Thomas Aquinas who said, “Everywhere you go preach the gospel and if necessary use words.” All of us people are to a certain extent like children; it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.
And my first response to people who have attempted to belittle my belief system I have but 5 words to ask: have you read the book?
If they persist, I tell them it’s like bookclub. If you haven’t read the book no one in bookclub is going to want to hear a thing you say.