When my wife says, “Bless you,” to our two year-old son after he sneezes, his most common response is, “No bless you. I okay.”
At first I thought that he was concerned with the economy of blessings or the implication that he required a blessing when one was clearly not needed.
But it occurs to me that perhaps this is my son’s first steps into his rejection of organized religion. Maybe his, “No bless you. I okay,” is really his way of saying:
“Spare me your superstitious nonsense. My soul is not in danger of fleeing my body when I sneeze, nor am I vulnerable to attack from some unseen demon, which is how this ridiculous tradition began. Sneezing isn’t even a precursor to illness in most cases. I feel fine. Besides, offering a blessing assumes that the receiver possesses a religious belief that can accommodate such a blessing, and though you may have forcibly conscripted me to a religion and plan to indoctrinate me into your belief system and ancient traditions, I am only two years old. My religious belief, if I ever possess one, will undoubtedly be a process that requires a lifetime of introspection and learning. Who knows? I may even start my own religion someday, or I may reject religious belief altogether. My the presumption that my religious belief will match your own is unrealistic at best. So spare me your unnecessary and meaningless blessings and just give me a cookie. I’m fine.”
Yeah. I think that might be it.