Any explanation of an observed phenomenon which, while not 100% scientifically accurate, is simple enough, and just accurate enough, to convey the beginnings of understanding to anyone who is new to the subject. There is always time to fill them in on the fine detail further down the road. This describes the sort of axioms we tell young children when they are beginning to get to grips with science.I don't post very much about my personal life on this blog. I'm actually a very private person, someone who shuns rather than seeks the limelight.
"A “lie-to-children” is a statement which is false, but which nevertheless leads the child’s mind towards a more accurate explanation, one that the child will only be able to appreciate if it has been primed with the lie."
"Yes, you needed to understand that” they are told, “so that now we can tell you why it isn’t exactly true”(The Science of Discworld, Ebury Press edition, quotes from pp 41-42)
Which makes this whole sex-change thing even more ironic. As a scientist, as a geek, I'm fascinated by it, and also want to share everything I can about a situation I have intimate knowledge of with the world. To cap it off, in order to retain what Human Rights I have, I have to be an "Activist for the working day".
We are but warriors for the working day.Or in my case,
Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirched
With rainy marching in the painful field.
We are but activists for the working day.Ok,I won't give up my day job.
Our gayness and our guilt by others seen
Reflecting naught but blindness in this field
But I digress.
My son's favourite Uncle died yesterday. Uncle Keith was sitting, playing a game, had a stroke, went into a coma, and breathed his last as soon as the life support was switched off. He'd been ailing for many years, and was in his late 80's, so this was a shock, but not a surprise.
How do I tell my son that he won't be able to play with Uncle Keith any more? It's at times like this I really wish I had a User Manual for life. One that gave detailed instructions.
We'd talked about death before. Laid the groundwork, as my in-laws live next door, and they're in their late 80's. It won't be long before Andrew won't be able to play with Pa, and Grandma.
So Andrew knows that Uncle Keith is in Heaven now. A wonderful place, the only drawback being that once you leave for there, you can't ever come back. Which is why no-one wants to go, even though there's no sickness or sadness. It means leaving all our loved ones behind. Of course you get to see the ones who have gone before, parents, grandparents, loved pets. Children too, for some.
I hope with all my heart that there is such a place. I don't believe it though. And I certainly don't believe that another place, a place of eternal punishment, exists, for if it does, my place is there. Even if I was in Heaven, the knowledge that others were suffering the torments of the damned would make it truly Hellish for me. Iago may have sung "Credo in un Dio crudel" in Verdi's Otello, and he may have believed in a Cruel God, but I don't. If He exists, he couldn't be that cruel, and if He is, I'll rebel against Him for it. I'm terribly imperfect, but even I'm better than that. Such a deity is not worth worship.
The funeral is on Friday. Andrew's chance to say goodbye, and the final link with this place broken, so Uncle Keith can feel complete, his mortal coil well and truly shuffled off.
I still have no good answer to my son's question "Why didn't he get his head frozen?". I doubt that I will either, it's getting too expensive. But maybe... and not just for me, it seems. He might find some comfort in it, a thought I'd not considered before. Would he be better off inheriting the money, or knowing that his parent had another chance at life? Hopefully I'll have plenty of time to think about it.
So meanwhile, I tell Lies to Children.