A post in which I examine my attitudes towards stuff I know nothing about

This is one of those posts where I’m mainly talking out my arse. Feel free to just look at the picture above and think about boobs and delicious boob cakes.

Mmmm, boob cakes…

Two women rang the buzzer this morning, wanting to talk about a god. I don’t know which god.

The conversation went like this:

Suspected God-woman: Hi, how are you?

Me: I’m well, thanks. You?

God-woman: I’m good. We’re just talking to people about some community work in the local area.

Me: Is this a god thing?

God-woman: Yes.

Me: Oh, then sorry, I’m not interested. I don’t believe in your god or any other god.

Confirmed God-woman: Have you always felt this way?

Me: Yes, I have. But you have a nice day.

And then I smiled at them to let them know I wasn’t going to be nasty, and gently closed the door.

They had a small child with them, probably three or four years old, which annoyed me because I thought “they’re bringing the child along so people don’t abuse them” and “they’re indoctrinating that child”.

And the more I thought about these things, the more I realised I am an idiot. Maybe the mother couldn’t get childcare? Maybe she was a stay-at-home parent? Maybe she didn’t think twice about bringing her child along, since they go to church and other church activities as a family. And maybe she did bring her child because it stops people being arseholes, and is that really such a bad thing? Just because you don’t like what someone is selling, there’s no need to be a jerkhead about it. You can just close the door and then they are magically gone.

But the indoctrination point made me realise I am a hypocrite. I have no problem with people taking their kids to anti-war/anti-discrimination/anti-violence rallies. I say this as someone who doesn’t have kids – and so it’s likely that I’m talking out my arse – but I’d like to think it teaches them to be engaged citizens who stand up for things that are important to them. And that it’s important to create a society that doesn’t fuck people over. Yet I tut tut when I see photos of kids at anti-carbon pricing/anti-marriage equality rallies, when it’s exactly the same thing. Same with including your child in an activity to promote a religion that’s important to you.

I feel like there should be some sort of deep insight at the end of this post. There isn’t. Other than to say, I’d like to think I’m above being a hypocrite in my attitudes, but turns out I’m just like everyone else. That’s a bit shit.

30 responses to “A post in which I examine my attitudes towards stuff I know nothing about

  1. I had the same experience with the JWs recently. I had the same thought 😦 Reckon we’re in different states too.

  2. The Luminous Ether

    We’re all hypocrites at times, and we’re all jerkheads at times – the important thing which you demonstrate here is the ability to self-reflect on things like this 🙂

    There’s a big plus to that lady taking her child door-knocking with her. The child gets to hear you say that you don’t believe in their God (or any God), and is exposes to possibilities outside of their own family beliefs. Of course, 3 or 4 years old would be a bit young to really be getting that message, but I still think that’s a cool possibility – probably not what the Mother had in mind though!

  3. May I add my two cents worth? I think, indoctrination is a problem if the parents expose them to a narrow range of opinions only. Should children hear from a diverse range of opinions, they can make their own minds up. Of course, I don’t have children, so I may be talking out my arse.

    • As a broad generalisation, I am uneasy with any child being exposed to a limited range of opinions, but, it seems, only if those opinions are the opposite of mine. For example, I have no problem with a child being raised surrounded by liberal feminist lefty views that will make them a good, fair person. Hence the hypocrite call.

  4. I do have a problem with the people my husband gently calls “god botherers”
    mainly because the children are taken out of school to ply the trade (so to speak) with the church family. They don’t have the choice of saying no and in the heat we have experienced of late they were out talking to those whom bothered to open their doors of their air conditioned homes. How many steps do they take before they reach heaven is what I would like to know. They wouldn’t answer that question when I asked, although did let me know that my question on the steps was true.

    • I think anyone who goes door-knocking in the Australian summer is mad.

      Taking kids out of school is an interesting one, because it fits in to what I was writing about in the post: that if it’s for what I think is a good reason, then it’s ok. ManFriend’s (much) younger brother misses a couple of months of school every year to hang out in France with his parents, speaking French and being in French plays, and I think this is an excellent thing. But it’s not really that different to talking to people about religion – both are educating kids about the wider world. (And I write this as someone who doesn’t have any religious beliefs whatsoever.)

  5. Most people don’t realise their hypocritical tendencies, so I think you have one up on them, there. I jump to the same mental conclusion as you, though. And I bet you would tell your kids that it’s okay to assess the evidence (e.g. of climate change) for themselves, rather than teaching them never to question authority.

  6. The deep insight you show is being able to see the black, white, and grey. Thank you for writing something with balance and critical self-evaluation. It’s a rarity these days.

  7. NWN, have you considered becoming an ethics teacher in a NSW Primary School? I was teaching ethics last year and I think you’d enjoy teaching critical thinking to children. I have to take this year off as I am being treated for leukaemia (chemo, bone marrow transplant), and I’m worried there won’t be a replacement teacher for my class. Primary Ethics needs people just like you!

    • Catherine, that’s awful. I hope you are ok. I read your latest post and know that you’ve got people looking after you. Sending you care across the internet, knowing that it doesn’t do anything, but wanting to give your hand a squeeze anyway.

      I hadn’t thought about being an ethics teacher at all. I don’t have kids, so doing kid-related things don’t tend to occur to me. But it’s an interesting idea. And I’m quite chuffed that you think I’d be good at it.

      • Thanks for the squeeze, NWN.

        I do think you’d be a good ethics teacher, and I do think you’d enjoy it. You don’t have to be a parent. There are ethics teachers who are uni students, retired people, or people of faith who believe faith is a private matter. Primary Ethics provides the training, and the curriculum. The teacher introduces the topic, and some scenarios for the students to discuss as a respectful community of inquiry. It is a bit like chairing a meeting. And you discover how children think about big issues. Quite affirming and very satisfying.

  8. Totally. I struggle with this all. the. time. It’s one of the most difficult bits of being someone who argues for diversity, acceptance, inclusion, ethics, etc. I mean, I like to say that people can be whoever they want, but then when I’m around people whose approach to life I don’t agree with, I kind of bristle. I think the difference is, as Sam points out, being able to recognise this and try not to discriminate against those people because of it.

    It’s a sucky bit of being a lefty feminist!

  9. Attitude relies on hypocrisy. Don’t feel bad.

  10. First, there is a difference between feeling like a big shit and being a big shit. You saw the inference and decided that it could have been other things – not a big shit thing.
    Next, I don’t care for religion, but I do believe in God. It doesn’t bother me that you don’t (that’s your choice) and you won’t see me out knocking on doors for that specific purpose (not even sure there could be a purpose). Long time ago, I had an elderly couple stop at my door for a similar purpose:
    Lady: Good morning.
    Me: Good morning.
    Lady: We are out today to get support on stopping this horrible teaching of evolution.
    Me: Well, I agree with evolution. The word for “day” in the ancient Biblical text also referred to “period of time”. Who’s to say God didn’t create life and all in seven different periods of time, each covering millions of years?
    Man: The boy makes sense.
    Woman grabs man by ear and walks him away yelling at him.
    I feel sorry for the man. I close the door.
    Scott

    • Sometimes I do so much self-analysis that I worry I’ve disappeared up my own arse.

      Because I’ve seen how some people can be rude/dismissive/arseholes to someone who is just doing their job – I’ve worked at Kmart, in cafes, in bars, and (very briefly) in a call centre doing phone surveys – I tend to make a point of being polite to them. (For the record, people were more likely to be arseholes to someone on the phone – because they dared ring them to ask if they’d like to do a survey, wow, how unreasonable – followed by people with a Kmart shareholders card.)

  11. JW are a little bit my pet peeve. the reason is that at about 13 – when i still thought there just MIGHT be some sort of spiritual universe surrounding us – I opened the door to a pair of JW who went on to tell me for about half an hour about how my life is vain and I must find salvation from certain perish through their religion. It left quite an impression on me. In every new house I move to, and this in the 3rd country plus I move a LOT, I make a point to be extremely stern, actually hostile with the obligatory duo (old/young, caucasian/asian, man/woman, casual/conservative, i have been told by an ex JW that this is actually part of their recruitment scheme.. ) and I tell them to ‘put this address down and NEVER come back’. I also don’t tell my dogs to stop barking. if they resist, I am rude.
    I have known two people who – as adults – managed to free themselves from what is basically a sect. ” a child being exposed to a limited range of opinions” is putting it VERY mildly.
    still I am glad I never had a “couple w/child” knock on my door. that would undermined my entire opinionated payback strategy.

    • Eurgh, that is so wrong to come into someone’s home and lecture them. I’ve been lucky enough that I haven’t had anyone like that knock on my door, so I can still cling to my “polite but firm” approach.

      Nikki, welcome to the News with Nipples.

  12. Don’t beat yourself up too much – as far as i can see you are ahead of the rest of the hypocrites in that you are aware of the hypocrisy and use for a useful discussion. We have all done something similar …

  13. That was refreshing I have watched people anti church anti God and all that they accuse the representative of they are equally guilty and hence throwing the baby out with the bathwater and never seeming to be aware of thier own bias thank you we all need to be aware take time to listen and reflect honestly.

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