Friday, February 13, 2009

The Devil broke the clock

I figured this might be an appropriate post for Friday the 13th – a day steeped in superstition.

Yesterday I had to take DD to the doctor. She’s had a really bad cold that morphed into a disturbing cough, so yesterday we spent the afternoon in the pediatrician’s office. In the office they have a very cool playscape where the kids who are not sick are allowed to play. {I’m so glad my kids have outgrown this – I was tired of bringing them home from the doctor with rug burns on their bellies from sliding backwards down the slide which is covered oddly enough by carpet}. Anyway, there were two little boys playing in the playscape where a large wooden clock dominates the back wall of the lower section. The hands on the clock don’t work [never have]. They just flop around lazily because I imagine none of the doctor’s office staff can climb into the small space with a screw driver or a wrench or what have you to tighten the bolt that holds them on the clock.

One boy was trying without success to position the clock hands and when he realized nothing he was going to do would work, he announced: “The Devil broke the clock.”

I chuckled to myself because there are a lot of things a four year-old could have said that would not have been as cute and I thought it was funny that we often blame the Devil when we do things wrong [The Devil made me do it] but you hear it less invoked when something else goes wrong. Like maybe the Devil broke the economy?? There’s a thought.

Anyway after my laugh I started to wonder if this was just the ramblings of a little kid’s mind or if this poor child was being brought up to believe that anything that goes wrong must be the work of the Devil or similar evil forces. Society over the centuries has been obsessed with assigning bad deeds to evil spirits. It explained all types of bad mojo like comets, plagues, shipwrecks, physical and mental illnesses. It was easier than finding out the true cause of a hardship or tragedy. Blame it on evil spirits. Of course many have suffered over the years for those beliefs. After all, if you are possessed by evil spirits, it’s long been considered all right to torture, kill or imprison you. So I had to wonder what kind of disservice is a parent doing to a child by teaching them that the Devil, or evil spirits of any kind is responsible for bad things that happen. Doesn’t that prevent the child then from developing a curiosity as to what is the real cause behind a problem and possibly discovering how to fix it?

Blaming the Devil when things go wrong is, in my opinion, counterproductive since it provides no recourse to prevent them from going wrong in the future.

Do you tend to believe in an evil force in the universe that causes bad things to happen or do you instead believe that things happen in a random manner that is sometimes good and sometimes bad but never actually planned by any intelligent force, whether good or evil?

I know that’s a heavy question for a Friday. Call it mental calisthenics. If it gives you a headache to think about it – blame the Devil.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I'd like to believe that things happen randomly because if there's some great power with a plan, they're even more screwed up than we are.