Monday, April 08, 2013

A Dangerous Idea

When Melissa Harris-Perry made a remark that "children do not belong to their parents", she was making a controversial remark that in some sense is true.  When she stated that children belong to the community, she was also controversial in the sense that she was implying children to be objects to be claimed for a utilitarian purpose of advancing the cause of 'community."  Depending on where you're coming from in your arguments, these statements can mean different things to different people.

When I hear this statement of "children do not belong to their parents", I can conditionally agree in the sense that no one is the property of any one.  Parents are ultimately only stewards.  In God's plan for marriage, a man and woman are bound together to effect transmission of life, of bring children to the world.  The primary task of raising children according to God's plan falls on the parents and in that sense their children belong to them.  It is the parents sacred duty, and right, to care for their children in all its fullness, so that they can grow to be fully human and develop into a productive member of society.  But productivity in society  is not the ultimate goal.  A child born with deficiencies and handicaps is still worthy of love, care and attention, as well as deserving all personal rights, for the simple reason that he or she belongs to God and has his/her inherent dignity.  Parents, in this sense, do not "own" the child because they are  not in a position to judge or determine whether the child deserves acceptance or rejection.  Human life belongs to God alone.  When the child grows up and enters the age of reason, he or she should be allowed to develop his/her potentials according to the gifts endowed them by God.  When it comes time for their child to choose his/her own path and vocation in life, parents should be open to assume the role of guides instead of trying to act as dictators and tyrants to their own children. How many times have we witnessed the sad reality of parents living their own dreams through their children and taking over their future and lives because parents often feel a sense of "ownership" of their children? ("We know what's good for you.")

If parents do not have the absolute "ownership" of their children, neither does community.  The community exists because people of good will come together to do service for another.  A community is not a "collection of people" but individual persons of individual rights and gifts, who choose to exercise and share what they have to effect a good. That is how a society is formed. It is a Christian hallmark to serve others according to the gifts and talents we possess.  It is part of being a Christian to donate something of ourselves to others.  It is in this "self donation" that we find joy and happiness in life.  So in a sense, whether we like it or not, we and our children, belong to a community. But in belonging to a community, we do not forfeit our rights and individual freedoms.  These rights and freedoms are not absolute, however, since they should be in harmony with higher moral standards necessary to preserve society.

I find fault with the idea of removing  parents' natural and God-given rights and giving them to another, or worse yet, giving them to an institution or government. The idea of government over reaching to the private and personal domains of people is frightening.  The implication of children being "possessions" and subject to ownership is degrading.  This is an abuse of secular and political power, a subtle move to attack parental rights and destroy family life, and a dangerous step towards defining who's "productive" to community or not.  

1 comment:

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