morality“Go gather the dishes and bring them here.”

Seven-year old Aadil obeys his mother and scampers to the kitchen table where the family has just finished their meal of mirchi ka salan and Firni. His father, Hamza, sits fumbling with a detonator for a series of explosive devices which sit undramatically against the far living room wall.

“Come here, Aadil,” he says in a pleasant enough tone. Aadil obeys. “Do you know what this is?”

Aadil shakes his head.

“The Great Allah has a work for us and your father has been chosen to bring honor to our family.” Hamza clips a wire to expose the copper inside. “Sit down. My son must learn what his father knows so that he, too, may one day bring such honor to this home.”

Aadil sits beside his father and learns. He learns what God wants. He learns why some people must die. He learns why it should not only be his want, but his desire, to bring death to others. He learns what morality is from his father.

24 miles away and at the exact same time, nine year old Nimra sits quietly and watches her father Shahzaib thoughtfully roll out his prayer rug and kneel upon it. She listens to his soft mantras and his whispers as he chants “Allahu Akbar,” the traditional Muslim prayer. “Allahu Akbar. Subhana Rabbiyal A’ala. Glory be to my Lord, the Most High.”

Shahzaib finishes his final recital of the prayer and turns to Nimra. “Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,” he says. “Peace be upon you and God’s blessings.” When his prayer is finished, he calls all of his three children to him.

Nimra gathers with his siblings at the feet of her father. Their mother finds a chair beside them all to listen to the lesson.

“It will bring your father and mother honor for you to know and live the Koran,” he says. He then begins to read passages. “And for those who have faith and do good works,” he reads, “We never charge a soul with more than it can bare… We shall take away all hatred from their hearts.” He looks at Nimra. “Tell me Nimra. What does this mean to you?”

Nimra replies. And she sits beside her father and learns. She learns what God wants. She learns how she is to behave and how she is to treat people. She learns why it should not only be her want, but her desire, to love and be patient with others while being fair in her punishments. She learns what morality is from her father.

On the other side of the same Earth, eight-year old David is taught by his father that God is adamantly against homosexuality. He is taught that it is his duty to protect the family and to fight against such sin. This is morality, he is told.

Two states away, nine-year old Jill stands waving a rainbow flag at a parade as men in dresses and women on motorcycles ride by. That morning, her parents told her that God loves everyone equally, and that it is not hers or anyone’s place to do anything but love the way God does. She is taught that it is her duty to protect all people and to fight against those who fight against love. This is morality, she is told.

On the southern side of the globe, a ten year old brown girl, made even browner by the filth and debris that surrounds her every day, runs toward her home with a stolen bunch of bananas. That morning, her father told her it was her duty to bring back food for her younger brother at any cost. She is taught that the rich men and the government have made it impossible to be honest, and that it is wrong to starve because of the greediness of others. It would be wrong not to steal, she is taught. This is morality, she is told.

That same day in Africa, a gun is pushed into the hands of a seven-year old boy. He is told to aim it at a pile of villagers and shoot any person that moves. This is morality, he is taught.

At the very same time in the continent to the North, an 18 year old girl makes a lifelong vow to always be celibate and never leave the cloth. She is God’s now, and always will be. This is morality, she is taught.

Somewhere else that same day, a younger teenage girl is told she must keep her baby. Not only is abortion not an option, but it is murder. This is morality, she is taught.