In which a future Historian rambles…
No, no- not an historian of the Future! :p An Historian who WILL be…. Oh never mind. I’m going to go to school, for history education. I am so darned excited. I am so incredibly terrified. But I digress…
July 4th is a precious holiday for me. It has a lot to do with the Oath I took to serve and defend my country when I enlisted in the U.S. Army- but it was also one of the reasons I enlisted at all. When I sing the hymns and songs and anthems which were written about my Country and its hard-won and burgeoning freedom; I hear the yearning in the authors’ collective Voice.
Maximus and Minimus care about fireworks, and sparklers. I am happy that they care- but I want them to understand WHY we celebrate. I would lay wagers that many Americans have no idea what was won and how Many were lost in the fight for Independance. I know that a love for U.S.A. is not a popular sentiment in our current cultural climate. It wasn’t when my parents were teenagers, either. I don’t care.
I long to teach them why I care. I long to show them somehow- what Freedom means. I will not tell them what they should think about our country. I refuse. When they ask why we treat the Flag with special respect, I wax poetic. When our National Anthem plays, I sing along, and I often cry. They notice and they wonder why. I try to explain to them why freedom is precious, why it is so amazing to be able to do and say what we wish, here. I try. Much of it goes over their heads.
One of my favorite teachers told me- about teaching children- ‘never be afraid to teach over their heads; you never know how much they are picking up.’ I take this philosophy with my children. When the sun sets, Maximus asks ‘what makes the light turn that funny color?’ and I explain to him the depth of the sky and the weight of the air, and the slowing of the rays of light. When Minimus asks, ‘Mommy why do we not ’till’ ants outside?’ I explain to him that ants are God’s creatures too, and outside is where they belong, so we need not kill them- they have a job to do. It seems like too much. It seems silly. Then Maximus will notice a rainbow on the floor and ask what has bent the light to make the colors show- and I know it was a message received in its due time. Minimus comes running up outside, ‘mommy I saw a ant- and I did not ’till’ it! Ants awe Dod’s tweatures, too.’ I hug him and whisper, ‘that’s exactly right baby.’
A message received in due time…
How do I teach my kids what it means to love a Country? I explain why I vote. “mommy, what’s an selection?” I try to explain Community. So much of the explanation is too big for them to compute right now, and yet… We read in the Old Testament. “Mommy what’s a slave?” Oh Lord God- thank you that my children do not know what slavery is!! Eventually they must know- or they will enslave others. What does ‘oppression’ mean? May you never know anything more of oppression than the definition, sweet boy.
Our Declaration of Independence says that we believe we are endowed (great word- that- look it up) by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among these rights are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I always wondered why that happiness part was in there. What does that actually mean anyway? Well it doesn’t mean anything unless the first two rights supercede it. Many Christians hold that the Bible doesn’t say anything about Rights- that claiming rights is selfishness, and that no one DESERVES anything. Liberty? Sure- He whom the Son sets free shall be Free indeed!! Jesus was all about Freedom. But Rights? Happiness? That’s a stumper.
But when I focus on God, I realise that His heart sings with mine when I am happy. Because as long as my happiness does not trample the liberty or rights of others, it honors Him and it glorifies His Creation. Doesn’t your heart also sing with echoed joy when your children are delighted?! Why else do we throw birthday parties, after all? Why else give any gifts? When I go back to the Old Testament law, and read- REALLY read, God gave a Law which upheld the rights of vulnerable groups. Why else pay a man for his eye if your ox gouges it out? Why else call foul on anyone who moves the stones that mark a widow’s land boundaries? Why else command them to use standard and accurate weights and measures? Why???
Our God is a God of Order. Justice. He is the originial Worker. He is the Originator of Happiness and Joy. This is why our Laws were written the way they were written, in the beginning… of U.S.A. I believe this.
I don’t have to look far, or wonder for long, to find how to teach my boys to value Justice, and Freedom, and Mercy, and Order, and Peace. I don’t have to wonder how to hold them all important, and none more or less important than any other. I look back to the Character of God. I look back to how he defined himself to the Hebrew nation and I look forward to how he fulfilled the covenant, and I draw my answers from my reflection on the Nature of God. I teach my boys to look to Him who created them.
I love Freedom. And I love my Country. And if I can reflect the nature of God to my children, perhaps in due time they will love those things, too.