Debrief: (v) to interrogate on return from a mission
If we knew for sure that we were paranoid, we could consider stifling our fear. But the power of paranoia is that it permeates our thinking with just enough factual information that we’re never quite able to dispel the myth from the truth.
I felt this when I was a father working with my small children.
I had two goals:
- I wanted to see them educated.
- I did not want that education to make them heartless and stupid.
You might think that receiving learning from a school would naturally remove all cynicism or indifference. You might even consider that sending them to a Sunday School class at a church could do nothing but enhance their potential for generosity.
Unfortunately, I think you would be wrong.
And here’s where the paranoia comes in.
I found that my sons often returned from school or church with a bit of twisted thinking, which they were convinced was true because someone with an education or a grease board had told them.
I could have left it alone.
I could have hoped they would annul such falsehoods out of the basic training they received in our home.
But their lives were too important, their minds too valuable to the planet, and their spirits too powerful to be left to chance.
So I did.
I often debriefed my children after they returned from school or church.
I am willing to take criticism for such a maneuver, and you can feel free to condemn the practice.
But I demanded that when they arrived at adulthood, they were aware that the Civil War was a struggle over slavery, not a misunderstanding concerning states’ rights.
I wanted them to understand that the theory of evolution was happening all around us, and it was all right to question it—as long as you didn’t insist that God created everything in six twenty-four-hour periods.
And I wanted them to know that there are no “chosen people,” no third-world countries, and no races and cultures that are beyond our understanding and affection, but instead, that we are eight billion people with more in common than difference.
I debriefed my children—and I would do it again.
Because their lives are more valuable than wearing matching uniforms and marching in step with their class.