Lightning woke me from my coma-like sleep the other night. I thought it was my wife taking photographic evidence of my shaking-paint-from-the-walls snoring, but it turned out to be Mother Nature competing with me for noisemaker of the night.
Once up, I couldn’t fall back to sleep, and so I decided to watch the natural fireworks display with my wife and kids. They were sitting in the breakfast nook, surrounded by windows. The show was dramatic; brilliant bursts of white followed by menacing thunder that echoed along the mountains and up the canyon behind our house.
But the thunder and lightning wasn’t the real threat that night. The real danger befell us when I let the dark stranger into our home.
We have a doorbell. When it rings, we have to answer it and let in the person that rang it. That is the way it works, am I right? Just like the phone; if it rings, you have to answer it, and you have to speak to the person on the other end of the line.
I opened the door as lightning flashed, illuminating the dark stranger. He stood a head taller than me, dressed in a black overcoat and grinning like the devil when he’s found out you’re dead. He held a hunting knife in one hand, and a baseball bat that dripped blood and rain in the other.
“Hello,” he said. “I would like to come in, but won’t unless you invite me.”
“Well, come on in,” I replied, stepping aside to allow him passage.
And so he entered.
The dark stranger tore through our house, smashing precious memories with his bat and tearing priceless works of art from the walls. He opened our kitchen cupboards and threw our china out onto the floor, then rifled through our bedroom closets and tore apart our clothes. He set fire to our cars in the garage, kicked our computer down the stairs, and rammed a chair through the big screen TV. As he did, he wiped his filthy boots on the carpet, leaving the dark stains and wretched smells of dog mess and blood everywhere.
And then he got personal.
He grabbed my kids by their hair and dragged them into the basement, where he beat them bloody, stripped them to their underwear and tied them to chairs with extension cords. He sat down before them and started sharpening his blade, laughing as they sobbed, begging for their lives. Satisfied with their terror, he left the room, leaving them to whimper in the dark basement while he took my wife on a terrible tour of our home. He mocked her cries as he ripped memories into pieces, stomped on clean bedding, and slashed curtains and carpet alike with a massive hunting knife.
And as he did, I sat on the couch eating a bowl of cereal.
He soon left, slamming the door to mark the end of his rampage.
Only then did I get angry. How dare he enter my home, hurt my children, torture my wife, and damage my property beyond repair? I shouted and roared, waved my fist in the air, and promised vengeance. I stood in the middle of my broken home, my broken family around me, and I raged like never before.
Who had let this menace into my home?
Oh right, it was me.
I opened the door when the bell rang, and when I saw the massive and dark stranger standing there with weapons in hand, asking to come in, I welcomed him into my home.
The man oozed danger, smelled of damage, and personified evil, and yet I let him into my home.
I have no right to cry foul.
Okay, so none of this happened (except for the snoring and the lightning show), and the story is pretty over-the-top and dramatic, but the message is this: When given a choice, choose wisely, and accept the fact that you are also choosing a consequence, one over which you have little or no control.
I know that Miley Cyrus danced like a whore on a pole at the VMAs, but only because the news told me that people were angry about it. I know that two people were pressing their naked flesh together in a commercial that aired during “Good Morning America” because a mother decided to complain about it entering her home as she ate breakfast with her babies. (see her blog post that went viral and somehow became newsworthy here, but not until you are done reading mine)
My response to the righteous indignation of these out criers is as follows:
First, if you admit to watching the VMAs, I don’t really need to argue with you, your admission is fuel enough to burn your argument to ashes.
Second, if you are surprised by Miley’s behavior, I want a hit of whatever you have been smoking for the past several years, because you live in oblivion. That girl walked off the set of “Hannah Montana” and stepped on a large but unfunny banana peel, and she has been sliding around on her ass ever since. Wake up and smell the cheap and whorish perfume.
And finally, to Rebeca Seitz, the outraged mother and “GMA” watcher, who wrote that the sex-filled commercial was seen by her young son “because somewhere, someone made some decisions.”
No, Rebeca, someone made one decision, and that someone would be you. (Insert funny image captioned with “You’re Doing It Wrong!” here.)
You chose to watch “GMA” (really? GMA?) and so it is your fault. Of course, you can argue the timing of the commercial (and you have) as if the outcome of the world depended on a boycott of ABC. In rebuttal I would ask, why did it take you this long? ABC has pumped out amoral garbage on their “Family” channel for years. (And why wouldn’t they, when it sells?)
Hint: Close the door and the dark stranger will go away.
Listen, I get it. I go to church, I believe in God, and I know that the world is at any given time and in any given place a real manure pile. Morality is mocked, sex is bandied about as if no one ever had or ever was a child, and life itself is all but worthless. Kids are assaulted from the moment they leave the house, regardless of your best efforts at home.
You can’t prevent the assault, but you can prepare your kids to defend themselves against it.
But it ain’t that bad; I also feel that for the most part, the world is beautiful. It is overflowing with good people, fascinating wonders, and evidence of a loving creator. Sex is great, and in the right context it isn’t dirty, evil, or immoral. The same goes for guns, video games, television, the internet, and a whole mess of other things that can corrupt if we choose to let them.
As much as you would like to, you can’t force your morality on others, just as you shouldn’t let them force their immorality on you.
The church that I attend (LDS) encourages its youth to “stand in holy places and be not moved.” When I first heard this said, I laughed. It sounded so pious, silly and self-righteous. I didn’t want my kids to be weird, or to become religious zealots, and I worried that being “not moved” would actually move them there. But then I was asked to write a letter to my children, telling them what I believed, and how I felt about them. As I wrote, I realized that when it came to my kids, being “not moved” wasn’t so pious, silly, or self-righteous after all. I want them to be good and happy people, and so I took the encouragement even further, suggesting to them that they themselves could become a “holy place,” a place that could not be moved by peer pressure, the world, or Miley Cyrus, the VMAs, and ABC. (And they could still be cool, or whatever word is used for being “hip” these days.)
Don’t get me wrong; I am not taking moral high ground here. You might be shocked at some of the things that I choose to watch in my own home and even some of the things I choose to allow my kids to watch.
But it’s my choice, and I choose to live with the consequences.
If you can’t, you’re doing it wrong.