Hello, and welcome to my latest rant.
The most recent theological journalism trend (in the footsteps of that last creationism fad set up to get tongues wagging) is the ancient chestnut 'religion stops people raping and murdering and doing all that bad stuff'. Well, it clearly doesn't. Ask any number of former Catholic choirboys. To quote a popular FB meme, I'd be worried if I met someone who told me that it was only their church that stopped them doing such things. I'd rather go to a hell full of happy agnostics afterwards, than a heaven full of repressed former criminal psychopaths that Jesus forgave after they dunked their heads in the holy birdbath.
The majority of folk that I've met in my life, as I'm not living in a secular country, don't feel the least bit inclined to engage in such dastardly behaviour. And it's not the threat of any punishment, or consequence that's 'stopping them'. Nothing is 'stopping them'. They simply aren't inclined to START that sort of behaviour. It doesn't appeal to them. They don't need to be told, threatened, coerced or cajoled otherwise.
I'm sure there are a few crooks out there who did turn over a new leaf after hearing additional voices in their head (rather than seeking mental health advice), or found themselves suddenly attracted to cake and coffee mornings and helpful people as an alternative to paying off those bad criminal debts in unsavoury ways. The promoters of such conversions only think that they're in the majority because those are the only stories they listen to, in between absorbing too much tabloid journalism about the rest of the world, and looking up damaged people to appeal to their imaginary friends to help. Delegating anything helpful they could otherwise be doing themselves to a speculative supernatural force.
These well-meaning, cake-bearing folks tend to try and get to the young people among us early on (disregarding any individual private motives) suggesting that certain theological teachings in schools and communities will prevent violence. In my experience, any form of cultural brainwashing of young people incites violence, once the young people in question have been ingrained with the misinformation that they have no control or responsibility over their own life, nobody is 'without sin' and that their destiny is just to be the puppet of some higher power.
"Ask for *the great one* to give you the answers!" these preachers of sorts tell them.
You don't want to know what the hormonally-imbalanced voices in the mind of an adolescent tell them. If they share those voices with you, you're better off giving them sugary carbohydrates and lots of rest and maybe a visit to the doctor. Don't tell them it's any of your imaginary friends or even more imaginary enemies trying to chat them up, unless you like human-shaped flying squirrel impersonations landing outside your ground floor windows.
I have a little insight of my own to share.
Many millennia ago, before spoken or written communication, when humans were dragging each other around by the hair, discovering the joy of arson and finding out what didn't make them throw up too often, barely anyone alive back then got to live to be as old as you. It was young people, with all their hormones and crazy ideas and energy, who made it possible for you to be getting as old and bored and opinionated and obsessed with imaginary friends as you are now. They quite clearly didn't die out as a result of unduly eating each other or throwing too many rocks at heads. Because look in the mirror - there you are.
And if most parents died at the ripe old age of 25 or so, a lot of community support kept their dependents alive in order to make the next generation, and the next, and the next - until, eventually, you came along. Life was short, fast, and hungry - right up until the 'civilised' ages - such as the Bronze Age, when some people probably made it to be as old as 35 and the word 'grandparent' had to be invented. You are made of their DNA, handed down through the lifespan of the human species.
If you have an imaginary life and imaginary friends who get you through the day, great. But what works for you isn't necessarily applicable to the rest of us. For example...
If you were told that you had to start having insulin shots just because it keeps some people alive, and you didn't need it, you'd say no, wouldn't you? It would conflict with your entire working body chemistry. The same goes for other people's mental health, happiness and wellbeing. Lots of people in the world are FINE. They aren't carrying any guilt, or concealing any crimes. They aren't being horrible to anyone. They have a happy, healthy family and friendship network. They're not looking for answers to things when the questions aren't relevant to them. They're getting on with life. Some of them are doing good and philanthropic things with their spare time and money as well. They don't care whether or not there's anything afterwards. They're dealing with what's real and what's in front of them. THEY LIKE IT HERE.
When you look at your kids playing games and sorting out their differences, try to leave YOUR imaginary friends out of it.
Don't delegate your parental responsibilities to your imaginary friends, or your church's imaginary friends. Just the same as you don't allow your kids' imaginary friends to take the blame and punishment for all of the cookies vanishing and the dog escaping. Supposing your child's imaginary pal turned out to be real, and yours isn't? You can't have it your way and not theirs by the same thread of logic, just because some folks constructed a fancy building to go and chat to yours in, and wrote stories about them. (Kids do that too. Usually with bedsheet tents, Lego, and crayons).
There's always the Naughty Step. It works a lot more effectively and instantaneously than some threat of hypothetical supernatural judgement in seventy or more years' time.
Because considering how long we'll get to live by the time you think you've convinced them, and how old and senile we'll all be, nobody will remember anything said to us or that we said to anyone, ever. Maybe with the exception of 'I love you' - so don't waste too much of that on your imaginary friends. Spare some reminders for your flesh-and-blood ones.
Remember - young people started the human race. Right up until the age of medical science, and people regularly started to live past 40. Only a couple of centuries ago.
Now - go and sit in the Naughty Corner, and have a good long think about it. And if your imaginary friends keep interrupting, maybe you need a cup of Horlicks and to go eat some of that cake yourself.