My youngest son decided to impress me with a video demonstrating the ‘toy’ he wanted. It was a news item about hovering shoes with a link to a website that sold the product. Needless to say, I was impressed. Shoes that hover two feet off the ground, given you avoid puddles and dirt, with forward propulsion and ability to last almost an hour are not only perfect but practical for getting around town. Intrigued by the possibilities, we decided to investigate further with intent to purchase. It was only after reading customer reviews, product specifications and other marketing material that we discovered a line, buried deep in the text: “This video is intended as an April Fool’s joke.” Truly a disappointment!
Encouraging children to tell the truth, takes a conscious effort. Therefore, I welcomed this disappointment, as it presented an excellent opportunity for a father-son dialogue about the importance of telling the truth. He brought up the recent publication about ‘fake news’ and their discussion about the matter in school. We talked about the litmus test when reading the news or other articles online and how to avoid such disappointments in the future. We agreed that while it is important to make sure that source of news is correct, what is more important, is to watch our own actions. We must take utmost care not to project lies, even to ourselves.
As the discussion was getting interesting, my teenager joined in by citing the extent of influence Santa Claus has in our society. Don’t get me wrong, we are suckers for Christmas movies, the hubbub of bazaars and donations to worthy causes that are plenty this time of the year. However, what bothers us, is the amount of effort that is placed into ‘making’ children believe in Santa! Coming from a background with no concept of Christmas, a Jolly old fella with a long beard and a tub-sized-belly that delivers toys to every child in the world in one night made no sense to me, whatsoever. Especially since none of my friends nor I had ever received a gift in this manner. Ever. No sense, until I realized that my lenses needed adjustment. Santa Claus is simply another name for hope. For dreams unfulfilled. Just as millions of children in the western nations, naughty or nice, dream about receiving a gift at Christmas from Santa, millions of children in Asia dream about finding the genie of the lamp who will grant them the three wishes! Some of us search for that lamp even today; alright, I admit, it’s just me. It was this realization that helped us understand that humans have tied their hopes and desires to the unknown since the beginning of time. What it did not do was help us understand the emphasis on deceit!
With dinner getting cold and my wife waiting patiently for the trio to finish their discussion, I shared the one thought that drives my world. What type of people will my children become? Will they be the guardians of truth that stand guard, even in the face of danger? Or will they change their stance to match the values of people around them?
We concluded the discussion, agreeing that while telling the truth may not always be easy, it is the right thing to do. The words of the Holy Qur’an that I think about often filled my thoughts that ” … confound not truth with falsehood nor hide the truth… ”
Merry Christmas from all of us to all of you.