My oldest son, never would believe in anything. No tooth fairy, no Easter Bunny, no Santa Claus. As a young father I never tried to sell any of these characters. I just planned on not debunking them. I figured that media and other children would introduce these beliefs. I was looking forward to my son experiencing the fun of mysteriously-appearing candy eggs, money under pillows and gifts under an evergreen tree that had been brought indoors.
My plan was to acknowledge the truth at the first hint that my son was starting to question the sincerity of these mythical bearers of good fortune. In the meantime, I would just delight in his starry-eyed wonder. I would reconnect to a time when I had believed in these things myself before my fall from childish innocence.
His mother and I did go through the motions. We hid candy, explained the value of putting a tooth under a pillow and decorated for Christmas. My son met every message about the actors responsible for the goodies being other than his parents with smug retorts that human adults were behind it all.
His younger brother was a little slower grasping reality. My oldest son was in the habit of explaining to his brother how things worked in general at the earliest opportunity. He made an exception with his brother’s belief in Santa Claus. He seemed amused by it all, until he couldn’t take it any longer. He told his brother in front of me that Santa was a fake. He told his brother that Santa Claus was nothing more than ordinary men in disguise.
I felt some sadness anticipating the end of the full Christmas experience for my younger son. But, my younger son laughed and told the older he was well aware Santa Claus was just a man who dressed up in a red suit, who took to the sky propelled by flying reindeer and went about delivering gifts by climbing down chimneys. He proudly proclaimed he knew how this Christmas magic worked. My older son looked shocked by his brother’s resistance to the truth, but then smiled and left it alone. I smiled, too.
It was later that the younger one came to me to discuss a different topic. He was about four years old. He was in tears. He stated that he did not want to die. Between gasps, he informed me that he was quite aware that eventually he was going to die. He told me that I could skip any lecture about his being young and healthy and death being reserved for old folks. He said that dying when he got older was not acceptable to him either.
I was at a loss. I wanted to play the life-after-death-heaven card, but I didn’t have one. I acknowledged death was a scary thing to think about and it was good that he could talk about scary things.
I don’t recall any particular point in time when I became aware that my sons no longer believed that I knew everything. Parenting is simpler when an upset child can be soothed by an adult who lets them know everything is going to be all right.
When my sons went to school and were old enough to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, as far as I know they just did it. What they thought about what they were doing never came up for discussion.
As a child myself, I remember saying the words with my hand over my heart, not knowing what the words meant, not knowing why I had my hand over my heart.
I would much later learn that I was mouthing acceptance in a belief that no former British colony or any other State in the United States should try and go it alone.
As I got older, I came to believe it was good to acknowledge that I thought people who identify strongly with exclusive groups could agree that they could work together to follow God’s instructions on what is right and what is wrong.
I bought into the belief that the resolve of other nations to do right by God was tenuous at best.
The American flag became like a security blanket. As long as it waved over the Land, I would be okay.
After airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, it was reassuring to see so many cars and homes in the US flying the flag.
The place where the American flag is displayed a great deal, is around things associated with the office of the President of the United States.
The Office of the President of the United States is something I believe in. I want a mythical figure to occupy this great office. I want to see the flag and feel good about being an American.
Of the two major candidates for the office this year, one promises a return to a golden time, the other says that we are getting ever closer to an America that has been well-visioned, but never obtained and she knows how to keep things moving in the right direction, which is to the Left.
I want to believe, but I don’t know how to suspend my belief that throughout recorded history it has been the rich who have ruled the earth. The rich claim they rule because it is just for them to do so, or claim that they are doing no such thing.
Donald Trump states he is rich because he knows how to run things. Hillary Clinton acknowledges she got rich, but doesn’t know why.
Donald Trump proclaims getting things done often doesn’t look pretty. Hillary Clinton wants me to believe good things happen to those who believe in women and children.
I have become to believe human politics is a game of lying to people that are not wealthy. Maybe this is the best that human beings can do. Maybe without the rich oppressing the poor there would be chaos. Maybe believing the rich should oppress the poor or that they are not really doing so, is the best we can hope for.
Perhaps human beings simply aren’t capable of social organization without “pay to play.”
I don’t know if anyone ever said, “Money talks, bullshit says it doesn’t,” but I believe anyone who doesn’t think this is the most salient thing that can be said of the state of human affairs, is full of it.
I really want to believe in bullshit. I want to believe every sin attributed to Donald Trump is Democratic Party Propaganda and every sin attributable to Hillary and Bill Clinton is Republican Party propaganda.
If I can’t believe that, then I want to believe Trump and the Clintons have made some mistakes they have learned from. But I can’t.
What I have come to believe is there is a growing interest in facing our collective fear as human beings that is generated by an awareness that we don’t know what to do without, lies, xenophobia, violence and the wealthy calling the shots.
I believe we can become better and better at identifying the evils and honestly chose the lesser evils to guide us while we strive to learn new ways to pursue the good.
I don’t believe in anybody. I believe in striving.
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