Monday, December 18, 2006

How To Break The Rules

In a discussion about the merits of Harry Potter, someone mentioned that they would never have their kids read Harry Potter because it taught kids how to break the rules. But that's exactly what I like about Harry Potter-- it teaches kids how to break the rules. I want my kids to learn how to break the rules-- and not just how, but when and why.

My two older kids know about the Holocaust (not the gory details, just the basic facts) and they know the story of how Oskar Schindler saved some Jews from the concentration camps and preserved their lives by lying to the authorities. So I asked my children, is it right to tell a lie if it would save people's lives? Then I asked them, is it all right to steal money if the money is to be used to get life-saving medicine for a sick person who would otherwise die? Do the Harry-Potter-breaks-the-rules crowd also keep their kids from reading about Robin Hood? do they allow their kids to read about how Eve sinned against a direct order from God because she believed she was taking a shortcut to what the Lord had wanted her to do? Because you can ride that slippery slope all the way down to the ends justifying the means. Bottom line, Oskar Schindler broke the rules. If you want to go the "commandment" route, it's one of our Articles of Faith that we are to obey our local governments. Did Schindler choose wrongly?

Other people may reckon that their kids will be able to figure out for themselves how and when to break the rules and it's their job right now to teach the kids how to follow the rules. That's their prerogative and they know their kids best. But my kids are little lawyers who insist on knowing up front what to do. Princess loves rules so much that in the absence of a sufficient number of them she'll make up her own and enforce them on others, and Sonshine never came across a rule he didn't at least try to break. So I want my kids, in the finest American tradition, to know from the start that there is a difference between "the rules" and what's right, and to know which side they are ultimately on and learn how to make decisions with the Holy Spirit's guidance and how to deal with what happens when they make the wrong choice. Because when my kids become adults, like all of us and all the Harry Potter characters they will have to decide when to break the rules in order to serve the greater good.