Imagine living in a big cage. In the cage, there are lots and lots of rings drawn on the ground, like a big target and you’re sitting in the middle one that’s only just bigger than the space you need to sit comfortably. You’re told that the only way you can be happy is if you stay in the circle. There is grass and sunlight outside of the cage, people laughing, eating, chasing butterflies and you can see that they are happy. Years go by, you do as you’re told and sit in the middle ring. Sure, you’re safe in the ring even if it’s a little boring. Yet, something is bothering you in the back of your mind as you watch everyone play outside…
“Where is their cage? They are happy but they’re not in a cage.”
You begin to question the cage, the more you think about it, the more you’re uncomfortable, cold and lonely. The more you look at them, the more all of the rings that surround you are making you dizzy. At long last, you creep out into the ring just outside of the centre.
“Well, that was simpler than expected.” You think.
“No-one’s telling me off, the person that told me to stay in the middle is gone and I am closer to getting out and joining those people.”
You tentatively move to the next ring, and the next one, slowly getting closer to the edge of the cage. You’re half way there now and you get so happy and excited that you run the rest of the way there.
You pause at the cage door. You notice that there’s no lock and you reach for the handle, yet you hesitate. You’ve lived your whole life in the cage, what if the outside isn’t as good as you expected? You’re worried that you might get hurt as you watch a child fall, scrape his knee and burst into tears. You let go of the handle and tears fill up your own eyes as you take a step back from the edge of the cage. Then, the child’s parent takes him into her arms, puts a plaster on his knee and kisses it better. The child runs back to play.
With a joyful smile, you wrench open the cage door and step into the light. It’s bright at first and you squint – it takes a bit of getting used to. But soon you begin to make friends and learn new things. You’re free.
That’s how I see a lot of People with overprotective parents act when they can leave home and finally try new things. That’s how some people who have been brought up in religion believe they feel in their childhood. They feel restricted and caged. It makes me really sad to see how parents (not of anyone I know) teach religion to their children. Like there’s no choice. This is how we do it and there’s no other way. Then it becomes confusing for the child when they see non-religious people being perfectly happy but they aren’t following anything that’s been taught to the religious child.
They’re so naive about the world around them and to the concept of not following a set way, that they feel like they have to escape and learn about it all. And of course they’re going to think that doing things without religion is better because now they’re not being controlled by their obsessive parents. And then the parent’s think “Where have I gone wrong?”
My parents didn’t teach religion in this way and I saw it differently. So did my brothers even though they’re not religious anymore. Here’s how I saw it:
Imagine you’re a young child and you’re in a park with your friends. There are three of you. You are blue, one is yellow and the other is green. You ask your parents if you can go exploring and they say
“Of course, stay safe and be back by two o’clock.”
Your friends both go and ask their parents as well. The yellow parents say
“No, come and sit on the bench with us like a good child.”
The green parents say
“Yes, go do whatever you want and be back whenever you want.”
Off you and green go, leaving poor yellow behind. Along the way, you see all kinds of amazing things, you play together and have a great time. After about half an hour, you see a cave and it’s dark and scary. Green says to you,
“Hey blue, this cave is pretty cool, we should explore it!”
You look into the cave, it has an interesting shape, and looks like a cool place to play games and explore but it also looks slippery and has jagged rocks on the sides and you can see it doesn’t look very safe.
“Hmmmm, it’s pretty cool, but I don’t know… It doesn’t look safe and I might not get back to my parents in time.” You say to green.
“Oh, sure you will” says green. “I heard that you have to be back by two, we’ll only be quick and I have a torch with me, we’ll be fine.”
You follow green into the cave and it looks pretty cool, you have fun playing games and looking at the rocks but along the way you fall and hurt your ankle. Also, whilst you were exploring the cave you were having so much fun that you forgot about the time! You realise you only have ten minuets to get back to your parents! Green helps you up and walks with you.
When you get back, green goes to their parents. You come back to your parents with your head hanging.
“what’s wrong?” ask your parents.
“I’m late, it’s 2:02 and I didn’t stay safe, I hurt my ankle when we were in a cave.”
Your parents laugh and you’re confused, if you disobeyed, why are they laughing?
“Did you have a nice time?” Says your Mum.
“Well yes, until I hurt my ankle.” You answer.
“So what if you were a little late, it probably took you a bit longer than expected to come back because you were hurt. We were worried, but we’re more worried about getting your ankle better” Your Dad says, kindly.
“What did you learn?” He asks.
“I learnt that the rules you teach me are to keep me safe and I should be careful when following my friends, even though they might want me to have fun and try to do what they think is best. Sometimes what they do is fun, but if I’m not careful I might get sidetracked and forget what you taught me.” You reply, proud of yourself.
“Perfect!” says your Mum “now, watch” She says, pointing to the two other children.
“What did you learn today?” Asks the green Mum
“Caves are cool! There’s lot’s of different rocks in them!” replies your friend.
“Wow, that’s great!” Says green Mum.
“What did you learn?” Asks the yellow Mum.
“I am safe here with you.” Says your other friend.
“That’s right.” Says Yellow Mum.
You look back at your parents and smile. Sometimes, their rules are boring, but there’s a point to them and you know that if you make a mistake, you can learn and try again.