I’ve always felt that the number one job of a parent, especially in the first dozen years or so of their lives, is to keep the kids alive. We don’t let them play in the middle of the street, we make sure they wear helmets, and we don’t let them eat laundry detergent (much). We teach them to blow on their soup, how to climb a tree safely, and perhaps even how to defend themselves if necessary. Everything we do is part and parcel of taking care of our kids and keeping them safe and secure and parents — good parents, anyway — take that charge very seriously. So why would any parent sit by and watch their child die?
According to the actor Stephen Baldwin, he would do it for God. On the British television show Celebrity Big Brother, Baldwin described a hypothetical situation wherein he and his family were on a public bus and someone with a machine gun came in and told his daughter to say that Jesus wasn’t real. “If she turned to me,” the actor explained, “and said, ‘What do I do?’, I’d say, ‘What have I taught you to do?’” He then went on to describe the results: “She’d say, ‘Jesus absolutely exists’, and I’d see her in heaven.”
Now, I’m not a famous actor nor have I ever felt the religious conviction that Baldwin apparently does, but if someone were threatening my kid and they asked me what to do, my response would be to tell them what they want to hear. I guess if you believe completely and utterly in an afterlife (and believe you qualify), then giving up one’s earthly life is not a big deal. But for me, when it comes to my kids, I’ll do everything and anything I need to keep them alive, healthy and happy as long as possible.
What would you do in Baldwin’s hypothetical situation? Would you tell your child to betray their convictions and lie to stay alive or would you have them be a martyr for their beliefs?