Friday, May 18, 2012

J is for ... Justification

Justification is when we feel the need to validate our actions, thoughts or beliefs, either to ourselves or to others around us.  How many of us are guilty of this?  I know I am at times.  I have many things going on in my life that I feel the need to validate, or justify, or have in the past.  Being Pagan is one of those things.  Being a single mom for several years was another.  Choosing to work full-time, then choosing to stay home; homeschooling and the possibility of sending my son to a public school.

First, I have to apologize for being so absent for the last month and a half.  We closed on our house at the very end of March and spent the first week of April moving everything into our new home.  I have spent the last several weeks unpacking, trying to keep up with my son's lessons, and my own, keep the kids from killing each other, and trying to take care of myself, since this pregnancy has been more difficult and drained me quite a bit.  Plus, we only just connected the internet this week and I have been too worn out to try to go other places to use it.  I have to admit, I also got behind in the posts because, even though I planned to keep up on paper and post them as soon as we got the internet, I let that slide because I was so busy with so many things.  Now I intend to play catch up as time permits, and post when I'm able.  (See justification at work: I am rationalizing why I fell behind.  Despite how valid all of my excuses sound, they are still just that.  Excuses.)

When I first became aware that what I believed and practiced had a name, I eagerly embraced the label of "being Pagan".  However, my family and many of my friends were not so easily accepting, and I found myself justifying my decision.  I would give reasons, such as "reincarnation only makes sense; after all, if "God" was so merciful, why would he only give you one chance to get it right?" and other similar arguments.  I no longer feel that need to explain myself or my reasons.  Part of that is due to family and friends getting used to the idea, and part of it is my own confidence and security in my choice.  If someone doesn't like it, fine - that's their problem, not mine.  And I've found that with this current attitude of "this is who I am and if you don't like it, oh well", I haven't met the same resistance as when I was just starting out along my path, and was still a bit unsure.

As for being a single mom, there were many who tried to talk me out of it.  I often heard that children need a father, or that single parent homes are unstable, and that I should "try to work it out for the child's sake".  While I'm sure that in other cases these arguments have value, I couldn't see that they applied to my situation (and still believe that).  For one thing, I was going through a divorce when I found out I was pregnant with my first.  Now, since I was already getting divorced, why on earth should I try to work it out for the kid?  I felt then, as I do now, that parents that stay together and are miserable do not make a good, stable home for children.  Children would benefit much more from parents who are not together, yet are happy.  And while I agree that children need a father, they do not always need their biological father.  I am happy to say that looking back, I don't regret that decision and am now engaged to a wonderful man who is a better dad to my children than either of their biological fathers are capable of being.

I also have to continuously justify homeschooling my son.  He is a special needs student, and we have tried the public school route during his kindergarten year.  It didn't go so well.  I believe he needs the flexibility that homeschooling allows, while others (who shall remain nameless for now) argue that he would benefit from the structure and stricter requirements of the public classroom.  I believe he is learning, as he has kept pace with his schoolbooks for the grade his age-mates in most subjects, is ahead in a few, and admittedly, is behind in one subject.  Though Reading is not his strong point, he is beginning to catch on, due largely to the generous assistance of one of my coven sisters in tutoring him, and I have no doubt he won't stay behind for long.  The only argument I can't counter is that sending him to school would expose him to other students, and offer a good opportunity for him to make friends in our new neighborhood.  With this schoolyear almost over, I refuse to enroll him at this point, but I am considering it for next year, at least for a portion of the year so that he can meet kids his age and be able to get that social interaction on a regular basis.  However, I would much prefer to enroll him in some local organized sport to encourage positive interaction with his peers.  Another argument I hear frequently, is that homeschooling doesn't prepare kids for "the real world".  Again, I disagree, because I don't think school prepares kids for the real world either.  Aside from the education itself, the routine of school didn't mimic the real world I found myself in when I started working during high school, or when I graduated.  Public school, in my opinion -feel free to disagree with me, I won't be offended!- attempts to create mindless robots who are programmed to do as they're told, when they're told and how.  It does not encourage creativity or independent thinking.  And while some employers look for the drones who will follow orders and not question them, increasingly it is shown that many employers value independent workers, who can think on their own and do not require constant supervision and guidance.

Enough about homeschooling, but do you see what I mean about justifications?

It's something we all do, whether consciously or not.  But I do think it is something we have to be aware of, so we can determine if the justifications are necessary, and who are we are trying to justify ourselves to.  Are we rationalizing our decisions so we feel better about it or so that others will be swayed to see our point of view?  It's important to understand our own reasons when it comes to making justifications so we can at least see the situation clearly.

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