Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Every day for the first seven years of Child Numero Uno's school career, I asked the same question the second he stepped off the bus, "Soooo...whatcha learn today?"

For seven years I received the same response, "Nuthin'."
I finally quit asking.
Then one day last year in the middle of sixth grade, Numero Uno bounced through the door, "Hey mom! Guess what?!"
"Whaa-at?" I replied cautiously. (Numero Uno has a tendency to say things I don't want to hear.)
"I learned something new in school today!" he exclaimed.
"You did!?"
"Yep," he said proudly..."I learned I'm an atheist!"

First surprise.  Then anger.
"How do you know this?"
"Are they talking about religion in school?"
"Which class?"
"Which teacher?"
Questions shot out of my mouth in rapid-fire succession.
Is that even legal?  I wondered.

I felt shocked, but I shouldn't have.

Truthfully, in kindergarten, when he refused to get out of the van to go to class citing, "I don't want to go to that Jesus school," I should have known then.  When he talked about the creation of Earth in terms of a "big bang" after watching a program on the Discovery Channel, I should have known then. 

I recently read a book titled:  Ten Amazing People and How They Changed the World written by Maura D. Shaw.  The ten people featured in the book were:
  • Black Elk, a Native American Spirit Guide who used his visions to help the world better understand his culture and religion.
  • Dorothy Day, a newspaper reporter turned Catholic advocate for the poor during the Great Depression.
  • Malcolm X, a juvenile delinquent turned minister of Islam who worked for the empowerment of African Americans through peaceful communication.
  • Mahatma Gandhi, a well-to-do Hindu law student turned political activist for freedom of all Indians from British rule and equality for the poorest people of India through his practice of satyagraha, or peaceful resistance.
  • Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, leader of the Civil Rights Movement, and youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, he helped African Americans achieve justice and triumph over racism through non-violent protests.
  • Janusz Korczak, a Jewish physician, teacher, and writer who worked all his life for the rights of children.  He along with nearly 200 Jewish orphans bravely marched to the train that transported them to the German death camp from where they would never return.
  • Mother Theresa, a Roman Catholic nun, founder of Missionaries of Charity, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, she lived among the poorest people in India bringing awareness to the needs of the world's sick, hungry, and homeless.
  • Albert Schweitzer, a Protestant pastor, musician, and writer, returned to school for eight years to become a medical doctor so he could travel to Africa and build a hospital to care for the poor.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952 and used the monetary award to build a leper colony.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese, Buddhist monk exiled from his homeland for his peaceful, anti-war activities.
  • Desmond Tutu, an Anglican Priest who spoke out against human rights abuses around the world and helped to bring an end to Apartheid, garnering him the Nobel Prize for Peace. 

Each was a warrior for peace; a champion for the poor, the oppressed, the discriminated, leading the world, aiding the sick.  All great humanitarians; all great leaders for change.  What did each one have in common?  Each had a strong connection to their faith.  While not all Christian, their faith played a key role in who they were, what drove them, what they represented.  Each believed in something greater than themselves.

Numero Uno will most likely never be a Desmond Tutu or a Mahatma Gandhi, but as long as he is respectful and shows compassion and empathy toward others, I will be proud.  The Dalai Lama said, "There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophies.  My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness."

I am sure Numero Uno is not done challenging me with his beliefs.  Being a card-carrying member of the NRA is probably in his future, but the day he announces he's voting Republican, he'll have to find a new place to live!

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