I read Scott Tiede’s column of Nov. 11 (‘Younger generation taught things that aren’t true’), and I’d like to offer a few thoughts of my own on some of the matters he spoke about. I’ve known Scott for several years and consider him a friend. We occasionally have coffee together and discuss things both religious and political, and although our worldviews frequently diverge, I am always delighted when we share time together.
I agreed with some points and disagreed with others in his column, which was aimed at younger readers. I want those same readers to realize that they might consider me ancient, as I am 76, a grandpa, and, for better or worse, a Boomer, but I hope at least some will appreciate my perspective.
In his column, Rev. Tiede appears dismayed that young people are taught that “human life evolved from single-cell life forms which were formed by random cosmic events.” That much is true: Children are taught this. It’s called “science.” But he goes further, implying that such knowledge suggests that “life doesn’t have much meaning.” I strongly disagree with that viewpoint. I believe that an awareness of how we, as human beings, have evolved allows us to discern what our lives are and can be. Regardless of whether we choose to understand our world through specific religious beliefs or philosophies, or we continue to explore different possibilities throughout our lives, each of us determines what our life’s purpose is. Science passes no judgment on how we interpret our place and function in the universe.
I also agree with Rev. Tiede that racism is too often present in our culture. So is sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and a whole other bunch of ignorance-driven attitudes. But he has suggested that young people are being made to unfairly feel guilty about those things that happened in the past. But no responsible teacher believes what happened before someone is born is their fault, and that is not the point of teaching history. What is the point is that students learn to think critically about the past and understand how to make informed decisions about the kind of future world they want to live in.
I hope that readers of this letter will take away an understanding that people like Rev. Tiede and me may disagree over politics and religion, but it’s possible to do so civilly and with respect for each other. And, Scott, if you’re reading this, I’m ready for more coffee together soon.