Skip to main content

Child-proofing for Adults

The above picture is a common sight in many vehicles throughout Asia.  I've traveled throughout China, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand and I've seen countless shrines to Buddha, Vishnu, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and countless other religious figures in both private AND public transportation.  Some are simple displays like the one above.  Others can be quite elaborate involving multiple statues and offerings including flowers, food, expensive bottles of alcohol, money, pictures of loved ones and images of revered political figures (Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, etc.).  If it was only a matter of seeing such shrines in privately owned cars and vans then I would think nothing of it.  However, the inclusion of such religious displays in public transportation got me thinking of how some would react back home in Canada if they were to step on the city bus and see the fat man, or Stephen Harper smiling at them (Is Harper capable of smiling?).

In my humble opinion, a small (but very vocal) minority in Canada cannot accept the fact that other people believe different things than they do.  Therefore, they have made it their personal mission to "sanitize" every public place so they are never confronted with a worldview that is contrary to their own.  Personally, I believe in Jesus Christ and would call myself a Christian, but never once did I feel threatened or uncomfortable when I entered a city bus and was greeted by the big grin and even bigger belly of Buddha.  I accept the fact that other believe in different things than I do and I respect their decision to display their beliefs in a very public and prominent location. 

The fact that there are so many people in Canada who claim to be adults, yet are so insecure in themselves that they can't tolerate opposing views never ceases to amaze me.  Walking onto the bus and seeing a cross hanging from the rearview isn't going to magically turn you into a Christian.  Stepping into the subway and noticing a goddess with eight arms and an elephant's head won't transform you into a Hindu. 

It might sound counter-intuitive, but one of my favourite things about traveling around Asia is how "unsafe" and "uncomfortable" it can be.  If nothing else, it only strengthens both my beliefs and my spirit.  Sure, I might occasionally almost step into a sewer without a manhole cover, or be confronted with beliefs that differ radically from my own.  However, my first instinct isn't to sue who's responsible or demand that someone confine their opinions and religious displays to a private place.  If people back home (Canada, U.S.A., Europe, wherever) would just learn to grow up and stop blaming others for their own insecurities and mistakes, then I think our countries would be much better off for it.

In closing I'd like to pose a question: How far is too far?  If a Satanist bus driver wants to hang an upside-down cross from his mirror next to a picture of Anton LaVey, would I be OK with that?  Would you?  Is it worthwhile to completely sanitize and child-proof a country so that we don't have to confront these problems? 


Matthew said…
It's interesting how something like secularism, which in my opinion, should lead to religious freedom, has somehow become a method by which religious intolerance abounds.

We are secular because we believe the state should refuse to promote one single idea, and oversteps its bouderies of authority on religious matters if it ever attempts to do so.

This notion that secular societies therefore, must be free of religion in the public life is completely missing the point.

You nailed it on the head: we are insecure. I am secure enough in my worldview to be confronted by the most anti-Christian worldview, such as satanism. It's time we start living in a world that respects diversity, instead of trying to force us into one particular worldview among many.

Popular Posts

Did God Command Genocide?

If you've ever taken any interest in the debate between Christianity and Atheism, you've more than likely come across the following critique of the Bible: "The Old Testament God is hardly one to be worshipped. He's a vindictive, angry, jealous God who commands genocide!"

This line of attack is hardly unjustified. How are we to respond when we come across verses like these?  However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them - the Hitties, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusties - as the Lord your God has commanded you. (Deut 20:16-17) Go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. (1 Sam 15:3) For some, the solution is easy. Simply pretend like these verses don't belong in the Bible. Problem solved. But this creat…

Let's Talk

I went to go check out a childhood friends facebook page in the winter of 2010. I hadn't talked to him since I was a teenager. I soon found out that I would never talk to him again,

I did a quick google search and found out that he had been apart of an online gaming community. I tracked him down to some forums where I suddenly became away that something tragic had befallen him.

The last time I had talked to him was shortly after I moved back to southwestern Ontario. I don't remember much of the conversation, except that he told me he was feeling depressed. I was 13 at the time and depression was just a word that I thought meant "sad". We caught up, talked about the trivial things that 13 year old boys talk about, but something wasn't right. We never talked again. 
Now 15 years later I was reading these words about a person who was once a close friend of mine. "What a f***ing coward." or "I can't believe someone could be that selfish.". It …

How are you feeling?

Response 1:

"I'm not sleeping again. It turns out my body might be reacting to antidepressants. The annoying symptom? Night sweats. We thought it might be lymphoma. It wasn't. That was a fun couple of weeks. I'm terrified. I'm terrified that this won't be the end of it, that the next medicine will fail too, and those absolutely terrifying impulses to harm myself and the thoughts of failure that I tell myself I am over and over and over and over and over and over again will one day be too much. Will these thoughts that only seem to stop in short intervals darken into complete mental breakdown? My biggest fear isn't snakes or falling, it's that I will end up on the street and lose my intellect and sanity, being mocked by people who don't know what mental illness is like. I'm afraid that the loneliness I seem to NEVER break from free from will enslave me into a life of dependence on others. I was doing so well but maybe wellness is just an illusio…