The “Your Child” Test (Society is Changing, Part 2)

This is the second section of a multi-part piece I’ve been thinking a lot about, which I’m calling ‘Society is Changing’. You can read part 1 here, which will provide some context for this section.

There has been a ton of energy, brainpower, blood, sweat and tears that has gone into political movements throughout history. As has happened many times in the past, several places in the world seem to have come up against particularly challenging political climates of late. Ideological conflicts like Brexit and the 2016 American election, in addition to armed physical conflicts like the battles raging in several parts of the Middle East, point to the notion that civilization might just be approaching an ideological inflection point.

At times like these, it can be disheartening to see and hear that about half of your country or region seems to hold such rigidly opposed views to yours. In part one of this story, I discussed how ‘society’ as city folk like me see it is changing, in ways that rural Christian communities 50 years ago would see as unacceptable and sinful. It’s absolutely vital to understanding modern politics that those rural communities still exist today, and many of those same beliefs are still firmly held.

Those voters have watched Democrats (for the last eight years in the US) shred some of what they consider to be sacred tenets of their belief system. It’s only natural that those voters would be scared about what might happen, especially as their elected officials have been spouting nonsense about racial minorities ‘taking over’ and the government ‘coming for your guns’.

There’s a lot more to say about the ways society is changing to become more divided, but for the rest of this piece I want to focus on a principle I’ve been thinking a lot about this year. I’ve been calling it the ‘Your Child’ test, and it works a little something like this:

Before you judge somebody, consider how you would feel about them if they were your child.

Give them the absolute benefit of the doubt before criticizing or attacking them. Ask questions to make sure you understand their point of view. If your child wants to do something you disagree with, have an open mind and talk about it. The same should be true for any other human, because we’re all just people.

We all have to share the space on this earth, and we have for the most part agreed on a set of basic human rights (life, fresh water, access to food, to name a few). Taking those as a given, if you’re not hurting anybody, I think most other ideas should be up for discussion.

Imagine if your child told you they wanted to convert to Islam.

Imagine if your child told you they were gay.

Imagine if your child told you they didn’t feel comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth.

Imagine your child’s skin looked different than yours. Would that really make you love them less?

Humans make a lot of mistakes. We are inherently flawed. This doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to be loved and treated with respect like anybody else. In this divisive time, I’d encourage you to think about how you’d react to your child in a given situation. I’ll bet if we all did this, trading in judgment for compassion, we’d all be a lot happier together.

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