My 11 year old son (son no 4) has been asked to do an Afrikaans speech on his culture. Now this is a rather difficult question from 2 angles:
The first is that none of my kids have managed to grasp the Afrikaans language – they couldn’t speak the language if their lives depended on it. They do not see any point in learning to speak the language and have a mental block when it comes to all things Afrikaans. (Just a note – I was brought up very Afrikaans – I married a Brit and have lost my Afrikaans accent / culture throughout the years)
The second thing is – what is our culture? We are white South Africans with British ancestry. Not sure how one explains that within a South African context. I suppose we could say we like meat and enjoy braai’s – but so do Australians. We like to do things as a family – but then so does most of the world. We dress like normal people do – so does the rest of the world. So that is not specific to our culture. It is actually rather difficult to do and I think that white South Africans have lost their culture to a large extent – especially English speaking South Africans.
So I asked my son how he would describe his culture. He replied saying he would describe himself as atheist.
Now I am not religious at all and neither is my husband. We both come from very different religious backgrounds and religion has not played a part in our lives. We have never encouraged or discouraged our children from having a religion – we decided we would let them choose. As long as they chose it, we would accept it. Son no 1 and 2 both went out with Jewish girls and Son no 1 is now married to a Jewish girl. Not an issue for us. He can be whatever he wants to be and the fact that his wife is Jewish has not influenced him from a religious aspect either and he has not suddenly decided to become Jewish – his choice.
We have never had so much as a bible in the house and have never gone to any form of church service in any shape or format. I must admit we do celebrate Christmas – not sure why – just a day where we spoil each other rotten and I make a huge lunch. It has absolutely no religious connotation to us.
The schools teach them religion. I was not against this as I think it is good that they do learn about religions so they can make an educated decision as to whether they want to belong to a religion. I regularly hear the schools preaching the fact that good kids believe in God and pray regularly and the schools also like to say that good children have a good religious upbringing and religion is necessary to teach them right from wrong.
I categorically disagree with this. I have 4 amazing boys who are extremely well behaved and have all done well in school. My 2 eldest sons have turned into wonderful Gentlemen and they have never stolen, murdered, kidnapped, raped, done drugs etc etc. So why do people insist that you need to believe in God to have any form of morals?
OK – so now I have digressed – back to my son believing that he is an atheist….
I asked him why he thought he was an atheist. He said he just did not believe in God. I asked if he could possibly be agnostic. He replied no – he was an atheist. Son no 3 now joined in this conversation and he agreed with son no 4. They do not believe in any form of a Greater Being.
What would I call myself – I am not sure. I am very sceptical about all things religious. I am not sold on any one God and I am not sure if this makes me an atheist or agnostic or maybe just stupid.
So this morning I reached for the printing in my printer in the office and of course there is my sons speech on being an atheist. I have put it on my desk to think about. Not sure he should be doing this speech as this may cause a stir amongst the teachers at school.
Perhaps he should think about his culture a bit more – perhaps a speech about our weekly family braai or something……
(I apologise if I have offended anyone)