This weekend, one of my daughters was playing with a friend who told her, out of the blue, “Gay people can’t go to heaven, and if you support gay people you’ll go to hell.” I’m proud to say that my daughter replied, “I think people should love who they love.”
This girl went on to say how “her bible” said that my daughter was going to hell. There was another girl present who is gay and told my daughter, “we’ll have fun in hell together.”
I’m not surprised by this, as my other daughter once visited this girl’s church Sunday School. She told me that the whole lesson for the day was about how Gay people can’t go to heaven.
I have praised my girls for being compassionate and loving, and we’ve had several discussions about their friend and her church. I have explained that we treat all people as equally deserving of kindness, even their friend who has gotten some unloving ideas from her church.
Bigotry is taught
My girls, who are half-Asian, were fortunate to attend two preschools that were very diverse. It’s just awesome to see children from different ethnic and national backgrounds playing together. They don’t care what their playmates’ skin color is, or whether they have two moms.
Bigotry and prejudice have to be taught. It can come from friends or even media, but never forget that parents or guardians are the biggest influence on children’s beliefs and attitudes.
In studies of religion, for example, most people in the US never leave the religion they were raised in. So the beliefs we instill in our kids stick.
Moral exclusion and dehumanization leads to violence
Moral exclusion is the psychological process where a dominant group tends to believe it’s superior to others. Just look at the racism throughout time. From slavery in the US to the Holocaust, the justification was always that the targeted group was inferior. Moral exclusion carries with it the idea that some people are undeserving of certain rights or protections.
Dehumanization is conceiving of others as less than human, or of taking away human characteristics. A stark example of this can be seen in Nazi propaganda comparing Jews to rats. Dehumanization is part of almost all propaganda leading up to warfare, genocide or human rights atrocities.
To view others as undeserving of compassion, or justice, or as being unequal is a precursor to many forms of violence. It makes sense. As social creatures, we often have to see people as undeserving of our protection to visit violence upon them.
Here’s the thing – teaching a child that gay people can’t get into heaven while straight people can’t is moral exclusion. Ranting about Muslims, or immigrants, or and other group teaches a powerful negative lesson to our kids. It perpetuates a culture of prejudice and violence.
Pay attention to who is telling you to be afraid
Fear is a powerful and primal motivator. Look at our current political environment. Fear-based political rhetoric is the norm. A generated fear of immigrants using dehumanizing language was a big part of the last US presidential election.
Let me be very clear – those who want you to be afraid of groups of people are trying to control you. They are not looking out for you; they are not your friends. Don’t pass that lesson on to your kids.
Teaching empathy and compassion to children is Important
There’s a lot of research showing the importance of teaching children empathy. For example, decreased empathy leads to all kinds of social problems like poverty, bullying, and mental illness. Empathy and emotional regulation are critical components of the development of the prefrontal cortex.
When I have any question about what I want my kids to learn from me, I try to think about what kind of world I want to live in. Do I want equal rights for everyone, peace, harmony, and all of that other hippy stuff? You bet I do.
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Not one of us fears immigrants. We do fear a government that is bound and determined to allow uncontrolled illegal immigration, and paraphrase it calling it undocumented aliens. What a joke. We fear the automatic resettlement of refugees, who have no real interest in assimilation,yet we are told we must be accommodating to their customs otherwise WE’RE racist. I’ll give an example. Many Somalis were resettled here because they lived in a dangerous world. Guess what? Most people do. They have for the most part thrived on our welfare generosity, yet I personally know of hundreds who go visit family… Read more »
“OK Guys, Let’s Teach Our Kids Some Love, Compassion, and Humility Already” Guys??? How about OK “people?” Do you realize the percentage of boys that have no “guys” in their lives?
Then we have … “A generated fear of immigrants using dehumanizing language was a big part of the last US presidential election.” We don’t fear “immigrants” we fear undocumented immigrants. As evidence by the following.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkvsE5Xitrs She states “don’t blur the difference between legal and illegal.”
My wife and her family are/were legal immigrants from Mexico.
Let’s teach “Humanity.” Why aren’t people like this women listened to? Why aren’t the Muslim families listened to “Nabra Hassanen, 17, was bludgeoned with a baseball bat early Sunday by a motorist who drove up to about 15 Muslim teenagers as they walked or bicycled along a road, Fairfax County police said. A Hassanen family spokesman said all the girls in the group were wearing Muslim headscarves and robes. Darwin Martinez Torres, a 22-year-old from El Salvador, in the U.S. illegally, was jailed without bail on a murder charge after the girl’s body was pulled from a pond near his… Read more »
True idiocy. For every one example of violence being done to a Muslim or Hispanic immigrant, there are literally dozens and dozens of examples of Muslims and/or Hispanics committing violence against non-immigrant Americans — or does Mr. Brechlin think that the massacres in Fort Hood, San Bernardino, Orlando and elsewhere don’t represent a cause for people to be worried about Muslims?
Did you read my earlier response?
Also … You’re speaking to the choir Meyers. I showed what I did because it was buried by stream stream press, The story is a catch 22 for the liberals in that they are hard pressed to take a side on the issue. My siting the story was to bring light to that which they wouldn’t normally bring to light because it involves an illegal.