At the 2016 summer conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses, a video will be shown that has a father talking to his son, as the child wants to enter “conservatory,” or a special school for children with gifts in arts or music. The child talks about his passion for playing the violin, but the father tells him that conservatory is simply too competitive and pressures children to make music their life. Despite the child’s plea that he be allowed to try conservatory for some time, the father is stubborn and simply won’t allow it.
Just Sit on the Couch Until the New System Arrives
This video is just depressing for most ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, because far too many of us know the feeling of having a certain passion in life or a certain talent, only to have it squelched because it would dare to take time away from the religion and its incessant preaching work. We know what it’s like to be warned against spending one precious second in the dangerous air space of those who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. We also know how hurtful it is to see other children being allowed to pursue their passions and their talents. How we wished we were able to express ourselves freely and get that sense of fulfillment from music, painting, writing, movie making, or even pursuits like architecture, marine biology, veterinary medicine; the list could go on!
The near-hysteria and propaganda from the father is also worth mentioning. When he says that time at conservatory would be too competitive and make children think that music should be their whole life, how does he know? I’m sure some teachers, coaches, and other instructors of child prodigies push too hard and too much, demanding a child make their studies paramount, but all of them? Every instructor, every child, every course? The child wasn’t saying he wanted to train for the Olympics; he simply wanted to pursue his studies in a setting beyond standard schooling. Why couldn’t the father allow it but monitor the pressure from the instructors to make sure his son got quality but balanced instruction?
What is also so incredibly sad about this video and this decision by this father is that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been telling children and teens that they will never grow old or fulfill a career in this world for many decades now. Note the May 22, 1969, Awake magazine:
I believe a person entering high school in 1969 would have been 13 when this information came out, so born in 1956. As of this writing, May of 2016, they would be 60 years old. In two more years here in the U.S., they could retire from that career that supposedly would never have been fulfilled. Five years ago they could have taken early retirement.
Of course, this information about giving up your career aspirations was never abandoned by the Watchtower:
“A university degree may or may not improve your employment prospects. But one fact is indisputable: “The time left is reduced”! (1 Corinthians 7:29) For all its presumed benefits, would four years or more in a university be the best use of that remaining time?-Ephesians 5:16.”
~ May 8, 1989, Awake
“Remember, too, that “the time left is reduced.” (1 Corinthians 7:29) How much time will you devote to such education? Will it consume the bulk of your youthful years? If so, how will you apply the Bible’s encouragement to “remember, now, your Grand Creator in the days of your young manhood”? (Ecclesiastes 12:1) Further, will the courses you take allow time for such vital Christian activities as meeting attendance, field service, and personal study? (Matthew 24:14; Hebrews 10:24, 25)”
~ September 1, 1999, Watchtower
“If you are approaching the end of the schooling required of you, you may find yourself in good health and with few responsibilities. Have you seriously considered entering the regular pioneer ranks? No doubt, school counselors sincerely believe that it is in your best interests to pursue higher education and to plan for a secular career. Yet, their confidence lies in a social and financial system that has no lasting future. On the other hand, by pursuing a theocratic career, you will be pursuing truly worthwhile and lasting goals. And you will be following Jesus’ perfect example. Such a wise decision will make you happy. It will protect you. And it will show that you are determined to live up to your dedication to Jehovah.”
~ June 15, 2012, Watchtower
How many more children and how many more generations need to throw their life and their dreams away before people realize that the Watchtower is simply regurgitating incorrect information, and doesn’t have any special guidance or insight from god as to the end of the world?
No, Your Children Are Not Making a Choice
What is also very interesting about this video is that it is proof positive that young people who “choose” to become Jehovah’s Witnesses and who “choose” to pursue a life in this religion are probably not choosing those things at all. The young boy wants to at least try some time in conservatory, but he is shot down by his father, who simply won’t allow it. The boy hasn’t chosen to give up this pursuit for being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the least; his father forces that decision on him by not allowing him to pursue something he’s obviously very passionate about.
This betrays the argument that Jehovah’s Witnesses offer that children should be allowed to be baptized into the religion when they’re underage. For those who don’t understand this situation, being baptized is your symbol of officially dedicating yourself to being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as they ascertain when they ask the following question of those who want to be baptized:
Do you understand that your dedication and baptism identify you as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in association with God’s spirit-directed organization? ~Watchtower 1985 Jun 1 p.30
Once you get baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you are beholden to their rules and the punishments for disobeying their rules, including being shunned if you should ever leave or commit some type of “sin.” For children, this can be a very difficult situation, as the religion allows ones as young as six years old to get baptized. As they get older, they may realize that this is not the life for them and they may leave the religion. Since they’re baptized, they are then shunned by everyone they know, including family.
Even while active members inside the religion, they may face a type of shunning for simply not living up to vague, man-made rules and standards (see this post). When you consider how isolated you are from other people when you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you can understand the gravity of “deciding” to become one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or to have this life thrust upon you, which is typically more accurate.
As with their demands to shun inactive ones or those who have simply faded from the religion (this post), this information may backfire on Jehovah’s Witnesses. More and more children today are finding out the true nature of this religion because of having access to the internet, where they can do their own independent research into its failings and false prophecies (see this website). Trying to control a child’s internet access can be shortsighted, as they can usually log on from smartphones and tablets, even when in a remote location or in the car. As they learn about the religion’s shortcomings, they may be less inclined to throw their life away for what they clearly see as a system of lies created by a small group of terrible men in New York.
If Jehovah’s Witnesses allowed some type of breathing room for their children and weren’t so quick to strangle every ounce of creativity and passion out of them, those children might tolerate the religion for the sake of their parents. As it is, I can only predict that more and more will be giving up those incessant, constricting demands and, rather than even trying to balance their “parent’s religion” with their own life and beliefs, they will simply leave off this outdated, pointless prison and pursue their passions. I can only hope.
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