As fatherhood quickly approaches for me, I can’t help but think about how much my son will be watching me and looking to me as he grows. As I think about the world in which he will grow up, I see how much division exists. Single-issue politics with quick-fix solutions. One-party rule and condemnation for those of another persuasion. Widening socioeconomic disparity. Culture on demand via the internet that allows us to live in very culturally-specific bubbles. Ravishment of mother Earth regardless of its effects on the future. Truth be told, I greatly fear the increasing level of toxicity this country.
The Value of Connectedness
One thing I know, however, and that is that serious parents try to instill counter-cultural values in their children when they notice toxic trends. One such counter-cultural value I will attempt to instill in my son is the value of connectedness. We are not separate, and we were never meant to be. We are wired for connection, but thanks to technological trends, if we don’t connect to the real people around us, we can establish connections with real (and unreal) people not around us. If I don’t like the political party you affiliate with, I’ll just avoid you and only interact with those of my political party. If I don’t like your cultural expressions, I’ll just surround myself with the cultural expressions that I find valuable. If I don’t agree with your lifestyle choices, then I’ll cut you out of my life. If I don’t agree with your theology, I’ll just troll you on Twitter or Facebook and congratulate myself for dealing a blow to bad religion.
Historically, many cultures/peoples have understood connectedness. Many of them also had a deep relationship with nature and how humans and nature exist together to help each other thrive. Toxicity thrives when disconnectedness is the norm. What if I yell at the TV or the radio when a politician I dislike comes on? What will my son think? What if I dismiss certain people with whom I disagree? What will my son believe? What if I tell him that I always know what is correct? What will my son tell his son? Jesus, too, understood connectedness. In fact, one might summarize his entire ministry or purpose as one of increasing connectedness to God and to each other.
Imprint of the Divine
We are not the same, but we’re not different either. We all come from God and are of God. In fact, all things that exist bear the imprint of the Divine. Greek Christians called Jesus the pantokrator, the “all creator.” We all share Divine DNA, but we rarely act like it. My son, who shares my biological DNA, has a still more excellent progenitor, the pantokrator, Jesus who is the Christ. Will I attempt to teach my son to be a detective of the Divine looking for that Holy history in all that he sees, or will I give in to the toxicity that is in such ample supply?