Thursday, March 26, 2015

Religion Should Be Like Pony Club

I had an epiphany.

I'm working hard to keep my Lenten resolution--Avoid Snark--because sometimes it's a lot easier to rail about somebody else than it is to be quiet, and because my son says I complain too much. "You have a nice life," he pointed out, not long ago. I told him mostly I was not complaining about things in my own life, mostly I was complaining about injustice or hatred disguised as Christian love or fear or not getting my boots repaired on time, and he said it was all still complaining and I should stop. So I'm trying to. Not because I listen to everything my son says, but because I think he might be right.

Anyhow. On the way home from quiz rally, in addition to dissecting the plot of every episode of the last three years of Dr. Who, my daughter and her friends had a short discussion about protests. Now, protests are a legitimate part of pony club. The people who create the quiz stations are volunteers who don't necessarily understand all the rules; sometimes the rules are not quite as clear as one would like; also, the classroom questions, which come from the national office, are notoriously poorly written and occasionally incomplete. I always tell my kids that if they think they're right they should protest, because sometimes the judge doesn't use his or own discretion or doesn't know any better and simply goes by what's written on the card.

An example, so that you all can stay with me. I was once a classroom judge. The card read, "Name three kinds of reins," and the answers on the card were "smooth, braided, web." The child answered, "Braided, web, rubber." I said, "Correct," because I knew from my own experience that rubber was a perfectly acceptable answer, but another judge, reading the card, might have said, "incorrect." If the child protested the technical delegate would have come in and instantly marked it correct.

In the stations I created for quiz this year, there was one thing that, the night before, the Technical Delegate and I agreed was a bit dicey. We consulted the rulebooks and finally agreed to keep the dicey thing in for an least the first round. Every single first round team protested that specific piece. The TD and I laughed and threw it out of the rest of the competition.

My club is pretty much known for being willing to protest, and my daughter is the reigning queen. I told the TD, a friend of mine, that if my daughter got out of hand she should fine her ass for being frivolous. (This, too, is completely legit, though my kids have never gotten nailed with it.)

Anyway--I'm getting to my point, though clearly taking the scenic route--my daughter's team stayed after one phase to protest, and so did another team. Turned out the other team was protesting not that they'd gotten something wrong but that my daughter's team had gotten something right which they felt was incorrect. They were protesting another team's responses, not their own. Before the TD could open her mouth, my daughter said, "You can't do that, it's against the rules."

The other team was puzzled. My daughter told them it was none of their business what she answered or how she was judged. The only thing they could change is how they themselves were judged. Her responses were none of their business. She was correct: it's a pony club rule.

Can you see where I'm going with this?

What if we all answered correctly according to our conscience, as developed by our faith, and left all the other teams alone? What if we only held ourselves responsible for ourselves?

It'd be a more peaceful world, wouldn't it? A lot fewer protests. I think, a better way to go.