My daughter tells me that some kids on her bus (it’s always “some kids”) have enjoyed singing a bunch of swearing songs. From what I can tell, these songs are all original pieces, improvised on the spot, yet the quality seems to be regrettable.
It’s stupid, but not the end of the world. What’s worse is that some have apparently begun to make fun of a girl from Africa, mocking her accent and culture. So, my daughter has been getting off a few stops early and walking the extra distance home, so that she doesn’t have to listen to “these kids.” We talked about whether or not I should come get her after school, so she doesn’t have to ride the bus in the afternoon.
This is the conversation as it happened.
“They’re just really making me mad. I was so mad I had to get off. I think I might say something to them.”
“Why do you think they are making fun of this girl?”
“If makes them feel cool.”
“Yes. I suppose so, but what about it makes them feel cool? What are they doing that makes them feel cool?”
“I don’t know.”
“Think of it like this. Imagine a person who didn’t need to live among the normal rules in a city or a neighborhood. He doesn’t need a grocery store, he can live in the woods. Now, who are the people who break the rules? Who are the people that can live in the wild?”
“Yes. Exactly. Breaking the rules, doing things you’re not supposed to do, makes you feel strong, powerful. But, this is not actually an Indiana Jones adventure. They’re just making fun of someone. So, what’s the truth?”
“Yes. They’re weak. They’re pretending to do things that only strong people can do. But not all living outside the rules is true strength. So, what would be the strong thing?”
“To say something and stand up for the girl.”
“Sure, you can do that. And that would be a brave thing. But if you do that. What could happen?”
“They could turn on me.”
“Yep. They could. But they’re weak, we’e already established that. So, let’s not worry too much about the dumb things they say. I want to talk about something else. If you stand up for that girl, what might you have to keep doing?”
“I might have to keep riding the bus . . . ”
“Yes! A truly brave thing requires commitment. If you stand up for this girl, that’s a brave thing. But something more is true bravery. And I mean that if you say something, then you can’t abandon her. You’ll have to keep riding the bus and be her friend. You’ll have to sit next to her. You’ll have to run the risk that these kids will turn on you. If you stand up for her, then you’re saying that she has a friend. But if you’re her friend, you can’t leave her. So, I want you to think hard about this. You can’t just blow up on these kids, tell them off, and then never ride the bus again, because I can come get you. If you stick your neck out for her, then you’ll have to keep riding the bus for a little while at least. You’re not the girl’s father, so I’m not saying you have to defend her forever. But, you’ll have to ride the bus for a few more months at least. So, I want you to think hard, before you just do something emotional, which seems brave. But a truly brave thing is to commit to someone and not just do one loud emotional thing. You understand?”
“When I married mom, I got you and Sim and Cam. I guess that was a brave thing. But what is a truly brave thing?”
“To not leave us.”
‘Right. I would never leave you. I have committed to you. I’ve made you mine. You’re my daughter. True bravery is not just to do something emotional. True bravery is to commit. Now, I can come get you from school. That’s fine. You don’t have to sit through this nonsense. But you can’t do something for this girl and then leave. So, what would you like to do?”
She hasn’t yet decided what she is going to do. But she said she wanted to keep riding the bus.
Here is the question: have you learned how to stay? Have you learned how to commit? Have you learned how to do a truly brave thing? It is not a movie. It will, at times, be long, boring, and involved. It will, at times, not be exciting or motivating. But the truth is, I think most of you already know that this is precisely what true bravery involves. For you live it everyday in commitment to your families!
If I asked you, “Can you tell me what Christianity is?” You might not know how to say it as clearly as you’d like. And perhaps you’d leave some important things out. But, at it’s heart, it’s what you already know and do and live. It’s what the Son of God did for us. He committed. He came to us on Christmas morning and made us his. And he ran the risks of what commitment involves. Such is true passion and true bravery. Such is true Christianity.
Lessons and Carols
This Sunday, 17th
Saint Paul’s School Christmas Pageant
This Tuesday, 19th