There was a pretty good movie in the bar last night: 21 Grams. (Supposedly we all lose 21 grams of weight at the instant we die - the weight of a stack of five nickels. Not sure where they came up with that concept, and not sure if it's true, but entertaining nonetheless.) It's a rather depressing movie, and pretty hard to watch, but definitely not boring. However, I must say - no matter how judgmental it may sound - that watching little children blindly follow their parents into wacko religious ideas is the most disturbing thing in the world. In the movie, for example, a little boy, six or seven, smacks his little sister during a disagreement. "He hit me on my arm," little girl wails.
"Which arm, baby?" asks father. Little girl shows him. "Then hold out the other one to him too," father demands. Little girl shrinks away. Father lunges over table, grabs her arm. "Turn the other cheek. If someone hits you on one cheek, you turn the other one to him too. Hit her," he says to little boy, holding out little girl's arm. Tense moment of silence. "Hit your sister, now," father repeats. Little boy finally does, hard. Little girl, crying, gets carried away by mother; little boy and father continue eating, until father smacks boy over the head and says, "There's no hitting in this house!" Smack. "You understand?" Smack. "Get in the corner!"
I know a family - who shall remain nameless - whose family dynamics are a bit similar (although I hope not quite as extreme), and this reminded me of them. I know it's not possible, but I wish children were allowed to grow up away from all that and decide for themselves what they want to believe once they're old enough. I doubt we'd have as many crazies and messed-up people as we do if that were the case. I know religious zealots are the exception and not the rule, but it still bothers me to see little kids blindly repeating after a preacher, or running around the UF campus in Hare Krishna dress with shaved heads and scalp locks. I think it bothers me because so many children are never given the chance to question what it is they're believing in; they're simply told that 'this is the truth and that's the only right way; everyone else is wrong and we have to help them see the light'. Obviously, not every child is raised that way, but many, many are, and I just don't agree with that.
You believe in something because it gives you comfort or hope or what-have-you, not because you want a way to set yourself on a pedestal apart from other people. Religion is fine in small doses, but not if it's used as a superiority complex.