Mushy Vocabulary of Values: Are Secure Borders Mean?
When did we stop teaching children vocabulary? I’m not talking about vocabulary words like “synonym” and “parallelogram”. When did we let go of our moral authority and stop providing definitions for words like “love”, “family” or “patriotism”? Is it because we ourselves are not sure of the definitions? Or have we been convinced that it’s judgmental of others to claim that these definitions may be fixed in place?
“Draw what _________ means to you”
It’s a common classroom activity, whether at public school or Sunday school. Kids are asked to draw “What does ______ mean to you?”.
Instead of telling a child Christmas is about God becoming man, being born as baby in Bethlehem as Savior of the world, we ask these children what Christmas means to them. Never mind that that child may prefer that you go ahead and tell them.
When asked to draw pictures of abstract concepts, a child, who doesn’t have a grasp on the language yet, to use their pictures to define the concept. Obviously someone can’t actually “draw” love, or Christmas (a day of the year, a concept of time) or any other abstract concept. That’s what abstract means, it can’t be seen. Giving a child such a task can be a heavy ask. They’re more wired, as a young child, is to be want to be told what’s what.
Probably the most common assignment is to draw “what ‘love’ means to you.” The resultant picture might include people tossing their guns in a trash can and holding their hands in a circle around the world, being careful to draw the faces in many colors. Or it may include simple pictures of families and pets and almost any personal scene.
Mushy Definitions of Love
Hopefully, a young child has been told, at least once, a bit of the biblical definition of love:
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loves us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
This would help us with our Christmas definition too, actually. Or maybe we were told this:
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
But a child’s first ideas of love, the kind you draw in pictures, usually has come from a combination of what’s in their environment. It might come from television and the movies, but hopefully also came from their parents. The kind of love experienced by a grade school child is the kind that kisses boo-boos, packs lunches and tucks them in. So that may fill some of the pictures they draw and fill in their definitions as well, if no further assistance is given. There’s nothing wrong with this except the definition is not yet complete.
The part of love you often don’t learn about until you are a parent yourself is the kind that lays its life down — or perhaps at least gives up a newer car or computer so that your kids can go to college. You sacrifice sleep so that you can be a part of your child’s life as well as keep the job that keeps them clothed and fed. Love is working out a marriage so that the kids won’t suffer (I don’t care what TV says otherwise.)
Love even means caring enough to protect your kids. You lock the doors to make sure no one gets in. You keep them protected because you know that not everyone in the world is as nice as their in their childish fantasies of everyone tossing our nuclear bombs in the trash and all holding hands.
What happens if your definitions stay mushy
So if you know how to define “right triangle” and “alliteration”, but you don’t know how to define your values, you won’t know how to defend them when they are challenged. And others are quite happy to define them for you.
For instance, I’ve been told over and over that it’s unloving to secure our borders. It’s unchristian! What about all the people on the outside that might need help?
Let’s go back to what a loving parent would do. What did your parents say about picking up hitch-hikers? You don’t do it because it’s not safe. Being prudent is not being unloving. Nine out of ten hitch-hikers may be lovely people, but all it takes is one to end up on the evening news.
Why isn’t the advice we give our children to protect them as individuals allowed to translate to larger numbers? We don’t open our front door to strangers but we open our borders? We put a fence around our back yard but we don’t want a wall around our country.
And finally, we wouldn’t lecture our next door neighbor on giving money to the homeless man on the corner, but we feel okay as a society forcing everyone to pay up and pay for the charity or cause of the government’s choosing.
Cherry picking the objects of our Charity
When it comes down to it, love is only counted as love when it’s shown to the cause du jour. And in the case of immigration, we are not allowed to show any concern for the current citizens of our country, the ones that will be footing the bill for the welfare on which most illegal immigrants are initially dependent and often remain dependent. That pay the cost for many being housed in a large portion of our prison cells.
“Charity begins at home” is also a biblical concept. In Mark 7:10–13, Jesus condemned ignoring the needs of your family for the sake of virtue signalling:
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God) 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
And finally, every parent knows it’s not being loving to never say “no”. Doing the right and loving thing can hurt feelings; it can disappoint people; not everyone gets what they want. Love is full of tough choices. Lets be the adults. Lets grow up into an adult definition of love and stop having mushy childish values.