It’s the other evening and, as we often do, we’re playing soccer on our front lawn – the dog watching, along with the cats, along with African birds in the 40-foot palms.
The boy, naturally, likes to show off by putting the ball in the big net in the most creative and dramatic ways he can find, when he’s not keeping the ball out of his own with the same flare.
And so he is beating us – his two sisters and me – single-handedly.
“Alright girls, pull up your training bras!” is what I eventually had to scream for everyone between here and the Indian Ocean to hear.
And wouldn’t you know it? It was a brilliant coaching move. The girls and I rallied back to steal the game from Jon.
Just before we left Canada, we had another soccer game, at at wedding shower, on a lakeside, on the softest grass, a large gaggle of Canada geese nearby, and with enough extended family to have a good time with all the kids involved.
There’s Jon, in goal, pretending to be German goaltender Manuel Neuer, that is, a Greek god.
Then this post-game conversation with the kids and three young men, two of them school teachers.
Jon: Ask me anything about Neuer.
“How many goals has he SCORED?”
Liz: Ask me anything about shopping.
Where do you get the best deals?
Me: Not where Liz shops.
The three young men were three brothers, two of them teachers, and we got on the differences between private and public schools since they had experience in both.
They were of the view, which I share, that pure secularism has been weighed and measured and been found to be hollow and wanting in terms of schooling children, never mind living one’s life.
It just doesn’t reflect the nuance of the real world.
The brothers also happened to believe in truth, that is that there is such a thing as truth to be found, never-mind taught.
One of them shared how difficult he found recent teaching-life in an Ontario public school, especially on this point, how, with one teacher in particular, the kids were taught how there is no such thing as absolute truth.
One would assume, then, that it’s fair to ask such a teacher if it’s an absolute truth that there is no such thing as an absolute truth.
Yes, the kids have just finished their first week back at their international school here in Uganda – where there are plenty of nationalities and races and religions under one roof – a place that does a better job on all this compared to many because it doesn’t worry about hurt feelings as much as just getting on with things.
Christians and Muslims and Hindus and atheists and none-of-the-above mix without much fanfare in a sort of pluralism (although religious belief is certainly more common here than in a typical Ontario school).
Pluralism, of course, is one of those words that has lost its meaning.
But when it’s honestly practiced in any particular place then all voices are given equal due, and honest questions are asked.
In my view, this is about as good a shot is anyone can expect to have in terms of having their particular view respected in the West’s secular milieu of the 21st century.
Allow various voices, stand back, and watch what happens. Because truth (and Truth) does have a way of rising to the surface.
The problems arise when not all voices are given equal airtime, when some are muzzled and silenced, that is when some views are labelled “intolerant” by those who simply disagree and don’t want to do the hard work to think much through, which, of course, is a striking and vulgar form of intolerance (and laziness) in itself.
Yes, it’s easy to sniff for someone else’s bigotry while not smelling your own stink-bomb.
(And yes, some views, non-religious or religious alike, will be, in fact, intolerant.)
And yes, also, some people of faith – and I’m referring to my own Christian faith now – are often not very astute at knowing how to speak and behave in a way becoming of their leader who you may or may realize noted the importance of seeking the wisdom (of serpents) and the gentleness (of doves) when, for one, setting foot in the public square
I can only hope, whether they later attend private or public schools when we’re back full-time in Canada, that my own children will pick up on this.
Finally, thank you for taking a minute to say a prayer for our safety, especially as we’re back on the roads here, especially for the daily school run.
Roads in many a developing nation are a more serious threat than, say, being a target for terror.
Thanks for your prayers on that one too, though.