Don’t fear the Christmas
We took our three boys to visit Santa at Smith & Caughey’s. Elsewhere, Mr Claus has to settle for a grotto, but at the historic department store he gets a whole enchanted forest of 300 green-and-white tinselled conifers. No wonder he was in ruddy good humour.
Not so my oldest son. Last year, he scowled at Santa, convinced he was a ring-in for the real Father Christmas who was probably neck-deep in logistics spreadsheets and arguments with suppliers in his fishbowl office overlooking the concrete-lined warehouse beneath the North Pole.
This year, despite being warned to be on his best behaviour, the 8-year-old refused eye contact, identifying himself only as ‘‘M’’. He knows once a big retailer gets your name and email address, it’s all over.
He’s not alone in his scepticism. An Auckland 7-yearold got a ticking off from his teacher, after suggesting Christmas presents came from mum and dad, not Santa.
Katherine Hogg says her son was similarly doubtful about Mary and Joseph. He didn’t want to join this week’s nativity play because he didn’t believe in God. So she kept him home. Cue outrage: ‘‘PC going mad,’’ says one Catholic principal.
But it’s not political correctness. It’s fear. Fear of beliefs, ideas, ideology.
Beliefs are powerful. But what is dangerous is how people act on those beliefs – as with any form of fundamentalism.
Atrocities have been committed in the name of Jesus Christ and Allah. But so too, genocides have been committed under banners of secularism, like Mao’s Cultural Revolution and Pol Pot’s killing fields.
Humanity’s worst outrages have not been about the expression of ideas, but about the suppression of ideas.
My point? Our ‘‘secular’’ schools must teach children about Jesus. They must teach them about Buddha. They must teach about Rangi and Papa. And they must teach about the often fiery atheism of Richard Dawkins and other humanists.
So if our kids are to celebrate Christmas, we should explain it to them. Oh, and there’s another thing we should explain.
M’s grumpy scepticism at meeting Father Christmas? Kids, about Santa, there’s something you need to know . . .