After a Grand Day Out with Rory yesterday, it was the turn of Darling Daughter to enrich me with her company this morning. We drove Rory to his football course, dropped him off and via a stop at the chemist, we ended up at a lovely spot for coffee.
I had the coffee, Abigail had double chocolate – hot chocolate and a massive slice of the best chocolate cake I’ve seen in a long while. All disappeared rather quickly as we sat outside, chatting and watching donkey, chicken, budgies and rather unexpectedly, a white rabbit in with the hens. He looked mighty fed up, poor little sod.
We chatted about everything and nothing, as family often does, about things close to us. School, dogs, horses, The Blondes (the other two) and we came down to talking about politics, how that world works. With the election looming in the UK, I asked about what she thought of it all and got an answer ‘they all seem bad.’ I explored that a little further and it seems it was a mask for not knowing a lot, something she just heard.
I explained about the parties, their traditional standpoint, what their policies are and what they are all about. I really thought she’d be bored, but no, there were questions and interest in what I was saying, which is amazing at 14 years old. She asked about left and right, what it means, so I explained and that lead to the pigeon holes, the ‘isms’, such as capitalism, communism, socialism.
The most important thing I talked about was thinking for herself, questioning everything, researching subjects she wasn’t sure about and allowing her beliefs to be challenged, by herself as well as others. I told her people like labels to attach to others as it easy for them to contain thinking, not thinking outside the box or for themselves. She came out with ‘like religion, then?’ With which I had to agree, to a certain extent.
I am atheist but don’t push those values down anyone else’s throat as that would be as bad as someone religious doing the same to me. I don’t want it done to me, so I don’t do it to others and to me, it’s respecting others right to believe in what they want.
We discussed how religion is a very good behavioural control method in different times but also that not all those who are religious follow blindly. Some are indeed more than capable of critical thinking and have made a rational choice based on their findings. I believe strongly that there is a wider brief here, that it goes for all in life, all ‘isms’, politics and everything where people are involved.
I told her to find her thinkers, that I admired people such as Chomsky, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and they are a good place to start, help her with critical thinking, open her mind to all sorts of topics. Most of all, I want her to think for herself.
I have been labeled many times in life and I am never that comfortable with any label, but I have come to the realisation that it’s down to others who are giving the label to take responsibility for that, not me. They are the ones pinning the label, to make sense of the world, possibly confirmation bias, possibly conditioning: a miriad of potential reasons. Not one of them to do with me.
I told Darling Daughter this, summarised by stating she needs to think for herself, avoid labeling herself and question her own researched beliefs as that is the only way to ensure rationality.
Coffee, cake and philosophy – tell me if there is anything better. Well, maybe when it’s with your child who fills you with pride and makes you grateful to your very core for living.
It’s a feel good day, once more.