Wednesday, April 6, 2011

While Watching A Two-Year-Old

No-child # 8, a two-year-old, is a constant reminder of how people learn, and what words mean.  In a family of 8 No-children (and 2 temperamentally-challenged No-parents), there are many No-people from which to learn.  For example:

Two-year-old (No-son #3) to:
  • No-cat: "get in the corner. 5,4,3,2,1!"
  • No-child #3 (No-daughter #2): "can I borrow your shoes?"
  • No-one in particular: "where's mine shoes?"
  • No-mother: "there's poop in it" (in what, Nobody knows)
He says "no" so often, that Noman sometimes calls him "Dr. No," and begins humming the James Bond theme song to tease him.  To which, he protests: "I hate that song."

Apropos to "hate"--which is an incongruous word coming from a two-year-old's mouth--something about the origin and meaning of words struck Noman during a recent incident.  Noman stopped No-child #8 from pouring a jar-full of sugar down his throat the other day, to which he remonstrated, yowled, and finally vituperated: "I hate you."  Noman told him (in words appropriate for a two-year-old) that he didn't hate Nobody.  He was just mad at Noman's preventing him from doing what he wanted to do, from attaining his immediate desire.  

Some people never grow up.  When they "hate" someone or something, it's because that person or thing stands in the way of getting what they want.  Nietzsche never grew up, and neither did his legions of academic followers on university campuses across the nation, who obsess about power.  Conversely, when they "love" someone or something, it simply means that that that person or thing gives them what they want.

These are fairly basic observations about human behavior, and about common words--love and hate--that attain their full meaning in theology.  Consider what the Angelic Doctor has to say about them: "It is our duty to hate, in the sinner, his being a sinner, and to love in him, his being a man capable of bliss. And this is to love him truly, out of charity, for God's sake" (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, II-II, 25, 6).  It takes a life of learning to fathom ontological insights about the human person, his telos, his fallenness, and to situate human desires and sentiments within them.  Education is meant to steer two-year-olds through young adulthood, and beyond, teaching them to get over having to have things according to their desires.  With the help of parents, whose actions most critically influence children, they might even learn to love having things because God wants them, according to His will.

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