Originally written March 2010
When the boys and I arrived at our weekly playgroup, the facilitator was wearing huge oversize novelty sunglasses. She told us that they were magic glasses that allowed her to see everybody’s invisible bucket.
Each person carries a bucket, she told us. When your bucket is full, you are happy, but when the bucket is empty, you are sad. We can help to fill someone’s bucket by being nice to them, and in this way, we fill our own bucket, too.
But we must never fill our own bucket by dipping into someone else’s to take their good feelings away (bullying or being mean). That is called being a bucket dipper, and it leaves everyone’s bucket empty.
I didn’t really like this idea. It just seemed silly to me. Why make up an imaginary concept like a bucket to explain morality to children? Of course, in public schools, they can’t teach a Christ-centred morality, or even the Ten Commandments, but do they really have to make up an imaginary bucket system? Teaching young children that they must be bucket fillers, not bucket dippers as the basis of their moral education seems to me to be frivolous and empty at best.
Morality must be based on something more substantial than buckets full of stars and streamers. Even atheists, who are not teaching their children a God-based morality, should be wary of this fairytale morality.
The more I thought about the buckets, the more harmful it seemed to me. What is the bucket supposed to represent? The heart? The soul? Do we now imagine that we can fill our own souls? That we do not need God in our lives to fill us? We need only our own good feelings about ourselves and others?
And if we break down the bucket philosophy, it is no more than John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of utilitarianism, disguised in a childish wrapping. Mill stated that morality could be gauged by its utility in bringing the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. Hardly compatible with Christianity, is it? In fact, it is completely incompatible with any belief system that is based upon an absolute truth, or an absolute sense of right and wrong.
This bucket-filling mentality would have us believe that anything that makes others happy is the moral right. If your actions displease the morality, then you are morally in the wrong.
Of course we shouldn’t bully or be mean to others. And of course we feel good when we make others feel good. But our sense of morality must be based on more than just what makes us and others feel good. The right thing to do is not always what makes us and others feel good. We have been given our feelings as a guide to help us determine a right action, but they are not the final end in determining the rightness or wrongness of our actions.
The culture of the moment must not define our morality.
If we do not carefully teach our children about what is universally right and wrong, based upon God’s perspective, then they will easily fall victim to this indoctrination based on feeling good and making others feel good.
This is what happens when we take God out of our public schools. The lack of biblical teaching leaves a big empty hole. We have to teach morality somehow, and we end up replacing God’s Word with this empty, meaningless, and ultimately harmful drivel.
The truth hurts. It’s uncomfortable. But I want to raise children who will speak up for truth, undeterred by what the majority opinion wants to believe, and unafraid of being labelled a bucket-dipper.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Luke 6:31)
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27)
Below is a link to the bucket-filler site, but you can do your own google-search on “bucket filling” or “fill your bucket” and you’ll find all kinds of references to it.