We consider ourselves to be a moral nation. We try to protect our children from ideas and images and actions that we feel would be harmful to them. We have laws and institutions (like DFACS) to protect them from their own family members, if necessary.
If a mother is a drug addict with nefarious characters coming and going, or a prostitute that brings johns home, or a criminal or abusive father, or perhaps a lone parent bouncing in and out of mental institutions - the children are often taken from the parents and placed in foster homes, sometimes by force. Are the foster homes better? Sometimes they are - but often a child has a special connection with a birth parent that cannot be broken by destructive behavior.
It is a controversial practice, taking a child from its parents. Who are we to decide what is best for the child? Who are we to decide what is a good home and what is a bad home? What if the parents are nudists, and walk around naked in front of their children? Some might say that is unhealthy for the child. What if the parents are Satan worshipers? Christians might say the child is in mortal (and spiritual) danger. Who decides what is moral? Whose measuring stick do we use?
It's an interesting question when you look at what is happening in Nigeria
. It seems abhorrent to us, but the rationale given seems to indicate that they believe they are doing what is best for the girls
"I abducted a girl at a Western education school and you are disturbed. I said Western education should end. Western education should end. Girls, you should go and get married," he said.
"I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of nine," said the shadowy militant leader, speaking in the local Hausa language and Arabic, as well as English.
In their minds, providing the girls with western educations is detrimental to their spiritual well-being, based on their particular moral code
. Of course - this isn't a government agency doing this... It's a militia group imposing it's religious viewpoint on others.
Fortunately for us, that kind of thing doesn't happen here, right? We don't force Judeo-Christian beliefs on people, do we? We don't consider girls to be less than boys, or women less than men based on some archaic religious notion, right?
If you Google "DFACS horror stories", you can spend a lot of time reading about how children were taken from their parents on the flimsiest of reasons, and put into homes where "good Christians" force these kids to live by their religious values (I know people who have had this happen to them). Who do they think they are to do that? Where do they get the notion that they have the right? If you listen to the right-wing noise machine, they sometimes sound like a Christian Taliban. Whether they are saying that critics of religion in government are like Hitler
, or women deserve to be raped for wearing "sexy" clothes
, or whether having the woman of the house be the main breadwinner disrespects the "innate" biology of men
, the message is clear and relentless: women should be subservient to men as God intended.
It's not that far off from the justification used by the religious extremists in Nigeria. When a group of people decide that their morality is God-given and must be law, or try to force others to live by it, then we are regressing into a pre-colonial mindset where the Vatican was the law of the land, and witches were burned at the stake. We as a nation MUST do better. When our words and actions begin to mirror those of people we condemn as terrorists, then we have lost all ability to look at ourselves objectively.
And down the drain so too goes our moral standing as a nation.