Recently, while scouring the Internet for something not even remotely related, I found an article that struck quite a chord with me. It’s a couple of years old, but it seemed to resonate. The news piece, ‘Santa Claus does not exist’ school tells stunned kids relates the horror experienced by parents (and, perhaps, some children) when they were told be a teacher that Mr. Claus does not, indeed, exist. Perhaps it’s offensive to teach children certain truths, but the “outcry” (remember, this is just a random news article) was quite ridiculous. Quotes from concerned parents seemed to focus on the horrors of this atrocious act of the dissemination of truth. Some quotes:
“What gives the school the right to decide when children should know the truth about such a harmless matter when knowing the truth does take away that little bit of magic?”
Amanda Piovesana, whose daughter is in Year 5, said: “I am upset because it has taken away a magical part of Christmas for my daughter and a teacher should not have the right to do that. My little girl was very upset.”
Angry parents at Calcot Junior School in Berkshire said the teacher had ‘ruined’ Christmas for their children.
“As parents it is for us to decide when we tell our children and some of the parents in that class could have got away with it for another year and now they can’t.
“I just hope my little girl does not twig because she is in the year below.”
“It is like a loss of innocence. Children should have the right to stay innocent for as long as possible.”
Perhaps the last one sums it up well, as I believe it’s confusing innocence with ignorance. Where’s the “guilt” in knowing the truth? Keep in mind that teachers have been fired over this.
The issue, to me, is that this culture of teaching children flat-out lies is not only acceptable, but to even suggest that people be exposed to the truth is a source of great exception. Does this sound roughly analogous to other popular myths?
Religion is a perfect example of this thinking. Here’s where otherwise intelligent and rational human beings can abandon all reason. They have no need for evidence and fight viciously against those that claim that their make-believe characters are not real. Many of these same people have no problem teaching their children that a God who knows and loves them will not hesitate to sentence them to an eternity of torture simply because they choose to question his existence. Of course, it’s good to question everything else… Just not Jesus… Or Father Christmas.
We all learn many “lessons” from an early age that are hard to let go of. These lessons can include emotions related to love, compassion, hatred, fear, racism, and just about everything in between. But as we grow older, most of us learn to question what we’re taught. We simply can’t grow as a species if people cling to superstitions, ghosts, and good ol’ classic fear of the unknown. Religion looks to be one of the last of these areas to fall, but I predict that it’s inevitable.
And for those who still might be interested in some scientific issues posed by the presence of St. Nick and his merry band of characters, I invite you to review The Physics of Santa Claus. And to all a good night!