So if kids are so important, why are they on the back burners of American society? Child health care dominates election chatter, but it’s white wash. It’s pretend concern in search of the presidency.
Pretend is what we tend to do when it comes to kids. We buy every possible gimmick to keep them safe, but allow them exposure to challenges that are setting them up for sorrow and failure, often far greater ones than physical illness. As readers of this column know, I’ll die on the sword for this issue.
Historians and noted authors William Strauss and Neil Howe talk about the vibrant generations sprouting hope among the weeds of today. In “Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation,” they say: “Imagine growing up as a kid, in a world in which older people produce a trashy lineup for you, tailor it to your vernacular, market it in your media and then condemn you for participating in it.” Yeah. That’s us, all right.
Tribune reader Paul Pastore, an East Valley real estate agent, recently shared an experience his wife Mary had in regards to an R-rated movie. While attending “The Kingdom” with her adult son, she noted a mother in the audience with three small children. Afterward, Mary asked the mother if she felt the violent movie was appropriate for children. The mother answered, “Why not?”
Later, Mary called the theater to complain. It was explained that the decision rests with parents. Yes, it does. A child’s welfare has always been the parent’s mandate, a God-given assignment, yet parents insist government and laws take command. Then those same parents ignore the rules, or are too lazy to say “no” and stand firm.
Mary’s experience can be taken much further — so I will. There are numerous, destructive norms that suck our children in and spit them out.
The proliferation of porn: Family Safe Media, which offers tools to block porn, and other concerned activists claim that statistics show “the largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17.” Weak minds call porn “free speech” when in fact it’s family-and-soul heartbreak. From dark, dirty theaters, it has spread through the Internet and into sophisticated settings; five-star hotels and giant corporations peddle the stuff.
On the same plateau is the love of alcohol. We’ve clamped down just a tad on tobacco, but refuse to challenge the happy juice — society’s sacred sacrament. Drug Watch International, a volunteer network of prevention experts, reports that alcohol and tobacco kill more people than all other drugs combined. It tells us that one fourth of all hospital visits are alcohol-related and it’s the No. 1 factor in youthful deaths: “One-half of all car crashes, suicides, drownings, crimes of violence, unplanned sex, poor school performance and other youth traumas.” Yet no matter how tragic the facts are, commercial, aggressive promotion continues.
We can’t talk about children without looking at the demise of the traditional family. It’s become so counterfeit it would undermine the most common species in the animal world. Its brokenness is the new tolerance — another adult indulgence, the ultimate betrayal.
Step back and look at the planet. Strauss and Howe have written profound material laying out reasons youngsters should be “America’s most important investment priority.” The authors have meticulously mapped civilization’s rhythms. They warn us that we are entering a predicable breakdown. They don’t try to determine exactly how it will come, but they have tracked individual centuries to learn that each is made up of four cycles. One of the four cycles results in the collapse of civilization. They tell us we’ve entered that cycle. I’ve written about this prediction before, but what is most notable is their description of the role of the current generation of youth who will pull us through and out of what’s coming. To learn more, read “The Fourth Turning.”
So will the planet reap the fruits of our betrayal of the younger generations, who will be called on to rebuild? The authors have an interesting take. They predict the kids will retaliate — not by putting us in an old folks’ home, but in re-establishing values that we denied them. I hope so. I hope they lead the way.
In the meantime, we as a society stand condemned, and for once, it’s not the fault of the politicians. It’s you and me, folks. It’s mom and dad. It begins and ends with us.
Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix television news anchor who lives in the East Valley. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.