Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Emerging citizen

This days, my 10-yr-old son is for a first time realizing in earnest that he will die. He has asked me anxious questions about this several times.

Because I do not believe in any afterlife, it is a bit hard for me to confront his questions. I tell him that all people die and that not death as such but premature death is scary (so he must always be careful when crossing the street); but when a person lives to an old age and has seen and experienced much, it becomes easier for him to part with life, he can even get tired of life.

Today, after inquiring about death again, my son asked another, unexpected question:

"Will the city also die?"

I reassured him that cities are not like individuals, they are not doomed and can exist indefinitely, as long as their residents maintain and protect them.

The question surprised me because I have never tried to explain to him what it means to be a citizen, and in our conversations about death I have never mentioned that our deeds continue after us.

4 comments:

Estranged said...

I'd rather say that your son is entering an existential phase. Let me quote a person that has given me some good advice over the years.

"You've probably heard this many times. You have to "find your purpose" and when you do this your life will be amazing, your life will be more palpable, your life will be a richer experience.

Well it probably quirts you that finding your purpose is ultimately "lying to yourself", because you're going to die, the people you have affected positively are going to die, and even at some point the world is going to die.

So why do we say it's so important to find your purpose?

In my opinion [it's because] finding your purpose is where you find your humanity."

Maya M said...

When I was pregnant with him, I had an even stranger existential moment.
I opened the encyclopedia on the page about the demise of the Solar system (in 5 billion years) and felt sad about it!

Bill said...

Maya,

In the big picture, cities do die and nations faded away, so your sadness was not misplaced.

When my son asked about getting his drivers licence, I said after he took confirmation classes at church. He'd attended sunday school, vacation Bible school and church periodically, but this was his chance to get some theology and really understand Christianity. A friend was aghast that I forced my son to take classes at church. (I also forced him to brush his teeth! ha!) I said it was just part of his education, something he needed to know and decide about wisely. My friend asked would I have sent my son to Buddhism lessons if he'd expressed interest. I said sure, which shut him up. Buddhists are rare in the fishing villages of Southeast Alaska, so his example was lame. But, I worked in Utah for three years. I went to priesthood, Bible Study, church and even Temple Lessons everyone often. It helped me appreciate and understand my neighbors and my own faith. So, yeah would have sent Jon to Buddhist lessons.

Bill

Maya M said...

My 10-yr-old would benefit from such classes - he is the boy who wrote that Jesus Christ had been an emperor:
http://mayas-corner.blogspot.com/2013/12/jesus-christ-emperor.html
I have tried to educate myself by reading parts of the Bible (so far, the New Tastement and the Genesis). However, while it is our common heritage, it is does not touch my chords. And my experience drives me further and further away from my cultural heritage. Actually, my interest in ancient texts is partly based on my wish to find a culture free of Christianity. Because it pervades all modern culture, even those parts that actively oppose it or try to ignore it.