I am of the opinion that the greatest potential for change in our society comes first through the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ and second by how we raise children. Marianne Williamson, a spiritual activist, has said, “There is no single effort more radical in its potential for saving the world than a transformation of the way we raise our children.” The Lord has revealed that “the wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the traditions of their fathers. But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth” (D&C 93:39-40). With such a command, the issue of child rearing in light and truth is of highest importance. We must dispel and drive out any tradition that will take away light and truth from our children thus enabling them to reach higher than we can.
I hope for a better world. In my opinion a better world is one of harmony, peace, love, equality, freedom, truth and faith. Any action we take contrary to that better world can instill that negative action into a child’s nature. The idea of a child being a sponge, soaking up all the information of the world around her, causes me to account for all my beliefs and values. Damage done to a child in their formative years is nearly ineradicable. Conversely, good and true principles and virtues established in their life from the day these children are conceived has the power and capacity to bring up children more fully in light and truth.
Ever since my son was conceived my wife and I have sought to minimize the impact of the traditions of men on him. We’ve had to critically look at the practices with which we were raised and compare those against others, guided by the Holy Spirit and using our best judgment when presented with scientific research and advice from other parents. I’ve come to the conclusion that Western methods of raising a child have been greatly influenced by the devil.
Considering the multiplicity of directions we could take this discussion, I wish to focus on anarchy in education. First off, I do not consider anarchism to be some nonsensical gimmick that I encourage or with which I affiliate myself for the sake of non-conformity. Though I am attracted to bohemian lifestyles, I truly believe that anarchism is the social order of a perfect society. This is a romantic notion but one worthy of study and active integration where possible.
One definition or explanation of anarchism that I like is that of being master of your own destiny. It makes no sense to endorse an ideology devoid of unjustified rule, explicitly devoted to personal freedom in the grandest sense, and not give that very freedom to children from the beginning of their lives. As adults we are capable of exerting force upon children, either physically or psychologically, and satan would have us exploit that power. We must cast satan out of our midst and trust in the divine nature with which we have all been blessed by our great Creator.
I’ve mentioned this in at least three blog posts I’ve done in the last year (one of which can be found on my personal blog here) but I believe God has given us at least three important attributes that will bring us to Him if we allow them to develop:
1) Curiosity. This is what brings an infant to crawling, walking, talking, drawing, whatever in spite of the fact that it requires work and necessitates a move toward independence. If we were not curious, why would we ever want to do those things? Everything is done for us before we begin learning those things. I submit that humans naturally are curious.
2) Goodness. I do not believe that we enter this world desiring to sin. I think we are susceptible to sin but not inherently endowed with sinful tendencies. I believe people unfettered by the chains of the adversary will innately gravitate toward justice, peace, love, and kindness.
3) Aspiration. People want to become better and greater than they currently are. Children want to become effective adults. They observe adults carefully and closely and seek to emulate what they consider effective adulthood. Adults find models that they can look up to. The obvious hope is that we all look to the happiest being we know of, God our Father, and seek after Him.
I don’t think I will find much protest with those who frequent this blog in saying that I reject public education and the modern school system. But I also reject any attempt at indoctrination of children. Indeed one of the fundamental aspects of anarchism is the ability to critically examine anything with which we are presented. I therefore reject curriculum of any sort thrown upon a child. One critical aspect of casting satan out of our midst is to reject all forms of coercion or compulsion. Telling people what to learn or think is force. The doctrine of agency disallows anything that is forced.
So how can we teach our children? This issue is never one-sided. You can yak all day to me about anything you want but if I don’t decide to listen and learn, it’s just wasted breath. Freedom of choice is crucial to development, which is why it was so strongly guarded and fought for in heaven. Power and influence can only be had by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned, kindness and pure knowledge, without hypocrisy or guile (D&C 121:41-42). Those are the same principles upon which our Father teaches His children.
Do we trust our divine nature? Do we trust that we have, through extensive examination and spiritual guidance, arrived at the conclusions we have, making it possible for us to persuade another? God trusts Himself. Therefore he knows His doctrine is well founded and He needn’t resort to force to convince others to follow Him. If we are attempting to force others to do this or that, we must think that the subject is not self-justifying. Therefore no one should pursue it. Is our knowledge pure? Do people seek the knowledge we have without being tricked into it? If not, perhaps it is not knowledge worth having.
I hope I have portrayed this idea well enough to generate conversation. I am always willing to admit my logic may be flawed or faulty.