Linking up with The Lounge today for their “Rants & Raves” week over at Robomum.
An open letter to the parents of the two young men
who knocked on my door a few weeks ago…
A few weeks ago your sons knocked on my door, and despite my best efforts I have not been able to get this seemingly unremarkable event out of my head.
It has plagued me to such an extent that I have been compelled to write this letter to you, in the hope that by doing so I may able to end the recurring episodes of rage that I experience every time I remember it.
They arrived on a Sunday just before lunch.
Their tentative knock was answered by my eldest son Jack, closely followed by Oscar and Max. The first I know of their arrival is when the three of them come barrelling down the hallway yodelling “MUUUUUUMMMM. There’s some people at the doooooorrrr for you!”
Grudgingly I extricate myself from the depths of the bathroom I was cleaning, and drag myself down the hallway, swatting boys out from under my feet as I go.
I don’t have my glasses on, and from this distance I can’t quite make out who these visitors might be.
Dishevelled, sweaty and squinting unattractively I arrive at our front door and try to rearrange my features into an expression of pleasant welcome. Now that I’m closer I can see there are two young men on my doorstep.
And then I freeze when I notice:
The white collared shirts.
The cheap looking black ties.
The little black name badges.
The smallish black book each them are clutching.
“Hi… we’re from the church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints and we were just wondering if we could… uhhm… talk to you about Jesus?”
Irritation flares inside me and scathing words form on my tongue.
The arrogance of these religions that feel that they have the right to try and force their world view down anyone’s throat. The audacity to think that they can intrude on my family and I in our own home.
But before I speak I take a second look at the two of them. I notice them both shift slightly as if to steel themselves for my response
“Young men” was really overstating the case.
These two are kids – there’s not a chance either of them is over 18. One of them has bum-fluff and the other hasn’t even got that far yet.
The harsh words turn to ashes in my mouth.
“No, thank you but… we’re not really… look no, I don’t think so. Sorry.”
Pity does not make me eloquent but it does lighten the situation. Despite the adult costumes they are wearing their teenage minds relish my obvious adult discomfort, but they are gracious about it.
“That’s ok,” they say, sounding slightly relived.
Then remembering their mission, the slightly older one with the bum fluff rallies and has the presence of mind to ask…
“Would you like us to leave you with a copy of the Book of Mormon? Maybe you might like to take a look at it later?”
“Actually I already have one,” I say. They look surprised – clearly I have the look of the unbeliever about me!
And so we get chatting.
I tell them how I came to have my copy of the book.
(to wit: some similar missionaries had door-knocked the unit I was living in as a 19 year old student in 1996. I answered the door a bit stoned and let them talk to me for about 20 minutes before they realised I was not a good prospect for conversion. Asking them if they wanted a beer was probably the clincher)
I ask them how long they’ve been out door-knocking so far. They tell me they’ve been out since 8.30am and they’ll stay out until 1.00pm. After that they’ve got church from 1.30pm that will go most of the afternoon.
We all say our goodbyes and I watch them walk down the stairs and off down the road. Off to trudge the streets and talk to strangers for another hour and a half until it was time to go to church. Doing their best. Trying their hardest.
Those boys. They broke my heart.
And although I’ve tried, I cannot get them out of my head because every time I think about them I experience such piercing rage that it actually makes me stop what I’m doing.
So as the parents of these fine young men I’m sure you’re keen to know WHY I’m so angry.
And before you puff yourself up with righteous indignation and sanctimonious swagger it’s NOT your religion that bothers me per se. Even though it does seem MIGHTY convenient that America actually had it’s own a visit from JC back in the day.
Yep the Book of Mormon states clearly that Jesus Christ came to the Americas 2,000 years ago shortly after performing his own version of “The Walking Dead” back in old Jerusalem town.
How he managed this despite the tyranny of distance, the dearth of technology, and the lack of low-cost air carriers such as Jetstar is not clear, or at least not clear to me.
But I digress.
So no, that’s not what’s bothering me. What IS bothering me, what is really, really fucking bothering me is this…
In this life there are many things that we will not be able to protect our children from. Despite all our efforts they will inevitably get hurt, experience pain (both physical and emotional) and possibly even face real danger. And although we would do ANYTHING to take their place and shield them from these things we won’t be able to.
But I believe that where we can protect them from being hurt or spare them from pain, we should. And although there are things that are beyond our control, we should do everything in our power to ensure that those things we can control do not harm the precious lives that have been entrusted to us.
So my problem is that by sending your children out into the streets to force your religion into the homes of people who have not asked for it is…
You have knowingly and deliberately sent your children into danger.
You don’t know who’s behind any of those doors they so innocently knock on. You don’t know what awful things they could be exposed to. You don’t know whether behind the nice white picket fence lives a piece of human slime.
HOW COULD YOU RISK THE SAFETY OF YOUR CHILD FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR GOD?
You have sent your children into humiliation.
To be laughed at and insulted and made fun of. To be belittled and rejected and made to feel like shit. What effect do you think that has on their self-esteem and emotional development?
HOW COULD YOU STAND BY AND LET YOUR CHILD BE HURT FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR GOD?
But worst of all you sent children to do an adults work.
Oh I’m sure there’s something in that little black book that allows you to brainwash them into thinking that they need to do this to please their heavenly Father.
But make no mistake – the people they are really trying to please are you, their parents. They want your approval and to live up to your expectations. And you are ABUSING this fundamental trust.
*pause to regain composure*
So in conclusion I hope those nice young men you’ve brought into this world stay safe and have the chance to grow into the good men they have the potential to become. I hope they experience all the joy and beauty that this world has to offer.
But as for you? You can go fuck yourselves.