Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Strange Things

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet.  It generally doesn’t take much to find it either.  Videos trend.  Links are posted.  Fingers type, and we can discover some pretty interesting stories.  The media world has changed from what it once was.  What was once considered newsworthy and what it considered newsworthy today are drastically different.  I am still amazed at the things that we consider “news” in our country and even more amazed at the fact that I (and others) actually spend time reading these things.

It sort of reminds me of the movie “So, I Married an Axe Murderer” with Mike Meyers.  His mom is on the Garth Brooks Juice Diet, something she picked up from the National Enquirer, which she considers to be “news.”  I often think that we have followed a similar route in our understanding of what is newsworthy and what is not.

All this to say, I found a story this morning that caught my attention.  Apparently, there is a holiday in Singapore called National Night.  Singapore has been having issues with declining fertility and they are encouraging people to have babies.  It seems as if they are potentially offering incentives for people to have children as well.  Mentos has sponsored a video, which can be seen at this link:  If you are easily offended, I wouldn’t recommend watching it, it’s not for the prude.

I read CNNs article about this and watched the video and I was unsettled as I recovered from what I had just read.  Apparently, the literature encouraging people to have babies includes the disclaimer that this recommendation only applies to “financially secure adults in stable, committed long-term relationships.”  Well, I’m sure those are the only people who are exposed to the video and information, right?

Ron Howard made a film called “Parenthood” back in the 80s.  Steve Martin and many other well-known actors and actresses were in the film.  It’s one of my favorite comedies because of its poignancy.  There are a lot of great insights in the film that Howard hits on the head as you see the good, the bad, and the ugly of parenting.  A young Keanu Reeves is in the film as the rebel boyfriend of a single mom’s daughter.  He seems like a burnout, but he’s actually a pretty nice guy.

In the midst of a conversation with his girlfriend’s mother about her ex-husband, her son’s father, he tells her about his experience with his own father.  He says, “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming a-----e be a father.”  That line has stuck with me ever since I first saw the film because it just holds so much truth to it.  There are little to no requirements for someone to procreate, anyone can have a kid if they have the time, the resources, and the right equipment.  But should just anyone have a kid?

As a pastor, I have seen my share of broken relationships.  I have heard more than once of couple who are in the early stages of their marriage who begin to experience difficulty.  In an effort to stay together, they attempt to get pregnant, thinking that’s going to be the glue that holds them together.  Not really sure what “Life Manual” they read to give them that kind of impression, but I think that the opposite would be true. 

Children are not for the skittish or the weak hearted.  They are not toys or play things that help us feel better about ourselves.  Children test your resolve, they push the limits of what you thought you were capable of and sometimes have you question why you had them to begin with.  And all of that’s just in the first 2 or 3 years.  I personally haven’t even ventured into the teenage years yet.  As much as that’s the case, I wouldn’t change it for the world.  I’m a better person because of my children and all of the things that they have taught me, but I’m not naïve enough to think that this is the case with everyone who has children.

“Making babies” as this video promotes, is not something to enter into simply because you’re trying to fix a population problem.  Children are a gift and responsibility, often a right and a privilege, but never should they be conceived and born simply to fix a problem, they’re worth so much more than that.  That’s not even speaking to the appropriateness of a nation’s getting fairly personal with its people either.  Regardless of the recommendations and disclaimers that they may tag on to this, it’s pretty likely that someone’s not going to take those to heart.

My heart is for the children.  We have enough children in this world who are not supported and loved by parents, not sure that we should recommend adding more to that number.  I’m all for having children, I have three of my own, but don’t do it because a country, a family member, or anyone else told you to have them, do it because it’s what you want.  Maybe I’m reading too much into what’s happening in Singapore, what do you think?

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