The tough questions

“Daddy, what’s rape?” queried the little girl. This kind of interrogatory sends chills down a parent’s spine. Not only is one concerned about what might have precipitated the attention of the child but one is also maddened by the reality of a world where someone so tender is exposed to something so brutal. No doubt in a world of instant communication, few are spared the spillover effect from a constant and uncensored stream of information.

We can rage against media, which brings this into our homes without concern for context. A parent with less than stellar remote control skills, even if attentive, might let some nastiness slip through. Most recently the point was illustrated by a colossally ineloquent pro-life expression from a candidate for high office. Likely referring to the life that comes as a consequence of the rape, the hapless soul actually said “it is something that God intended to happen.” Does anyone, including the speaker, really believe that God intends rape? I certainly hope not.

With my own somewhat older kids (middle and high school), we were able to discuss whether a friend of theirs who may have been originally conceived through the violent act is inferior to a person begat in love. In our own family straw poll, we unanimously believed that each was valued the same in the eyes of God. On the more thorny issue, our youngest wondered how such a violent act was even possible. His innocence contrasted the searing reality of anger and dominance. Some people, I suggested to him, have the need to intimidate and control others. It makes them feel powerful, I continued. While words failed me to further explain, he rescued me by observing – those people who do that are just dumb. Perhaps, I thought, but they are certainly broken.