In a recent address, initially aimed at Africa, Elder Dallin H. Oaks tells us:
To help its members all over the world, the Church teaches us to give up any personal or family traditions or practices that are contrary to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ and to this gospel culture. In this we heed the warning of the Apostle Paul, who said that we should not let anyone “spoil [us] through philosophy … after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).This got me thinking about what sort of traditions and cultural influences we have here in America that may not be consistent with gospel culture. I'm still thinking about it but I did identify one a long time ago and it has been a personal pet peeve for some time. I don't like the way we treat children.
It seems to stem from the age old tradition of "Respect your Elders" that is deeply ingrained in us. It suggests that people that are old deserve respect, more respect than those younger. It also suggests that the young don't deserve respect because they are young. I don't buy it. Everyone deserves respect because they are people, regardless of their age.
So, how do we mistreat the young? I suggest the following:
- We refer to them by their first names but insist we be called by "Sister" or "Brother" with our last names. I'm always, "Sister Cook" to the young.
- We ignore them and address other adults. We walk down the halls in Church and acknowledge the adults and ignore the young as if they don't exist.
- We communicate with them through their parents instead of interacting with them as individuals.
- We don't allow them to receive communication in their own right.
The best example of this latest is we never email them. This is absurd in my opinion. We don't stop their ears when things are announced over the podium. We don't prevent them from reading the bulletin on Sundays. We don't forbid them to look at bulletin boards. Why can't they receive emails? It makes no sense.
In fact, given how woefully inept, and digitally resistant, many adults are it makes MORE sense to communicate digitally with the young than it does the old.
The Church's digital tools do not grant the young second class status. They can receive the same digital communication as anyone else and access the same tools as older members.
Christ didn't ignore the young, quite the opposite. He often went to great lengths to single them out and hold them up as a model for the rest of us. Why do we minimize them then?
I've held this opinion since I was young but no one would listen to me then.
Will anyone listen to me now?