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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Suffer(ing) the children...

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Browsing Blogs (as you do!) I came across this uncomfortable tale from comedian Dave Gorman recounting an experience on the London Underground (subway). Here are some quotes:

The woman sat down and instantly started reading a very well thumbed copy of the bible. Her two daughters tugged at her sleeves a couple of times and tried to engage "Mummy" in conversation but she didn't look up from her book. So the kids decided to entertain themselves. They achieved this by taking a pile of leaflets from their Mum and walking up and down the carriage handing them to the other passengers.

The leaflets were advertising a church and looked to be full of quotations from the bible. I really don't know how I feel about this sort of thing. Actually, that's not true. I do know. I don't like it. I don't really think a parent should sit back and tacitly encourage their kids to engage in that kind of activity.

Faith - like politics - is contentious. People are entitled to their opinions and those opinions are often strongly felt. A grown up handing out such leaflets is, presumably, prepared for either rejection or debate - in a way an eight year old girl simply isn't.

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So now I'm sitting there, hearing two young girls tell each other that I - and a third of the other passengers on the train - are bad people. It got worse. They continued by deciding that we were all going to go to hell. Proper hell. With lots of flames and things because the devil was going to punish us because we weren't interested in the good message that God wanted them to share with the world.

Along with a few other people I was being loudly condemned to hell by a pair of sisters, a few years shy of their tenth birthday... and their mother was sat there hearing them say it and doing nothing about it.

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I know I probably should have done nothing. I know I should have just got off the train and gone about my business, dismissing it as just another bit of eccentricity in the world, but I figured I had as much right to hand out literature expressing my point of view as they did. So I did.

We were approaching my stop so I hastily scribbled a few words on a scrap of paper and then, trying to do so in a way that her kids wouldn't notice, I handed it to the mother. I know it will have achieved nothing. I know the chances of that woman seeing any fault in her behaviour or that of her offspring is zero... but it still made me feel better to have done something. At least I didn't sit by and give their behaviour my tacit approval.

The words on my note were: "I find being condemned to hell by your children upsetting. They are learning to hate."
So... how does that make you feel?! Read the full article here: Blessed Are The Children

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2 comments:

Sally said...

I am simply speechless, and VERY sad....

James and Maggie said...

I take my hat off to Mr. Gorman I've simply lost count of the times I should have done or said something in similar circumstances. My younger brother was once scared #*itless by a lesson in Sunday school where he was told 'if he strayed from the narrow path' he would be off to some firey inferno. He was around 8-9 years old at the time. He suffered nightmares as a result.