Monday, April 23, 2007

Violence, Guns, People

As is customary over in Becky's "Just a Girl in Short Shorts" blog... she hit on something that really sends me on an internal dialog trip with her post about American Violence.

Truly, guns are not the problem. A lack of accountability, tolerance, respect, and egocentrical-adults seem to be the underlying issue.

An example:
My father-in-law can recall bringing his rifle to school (as did other children in his class). They had to pass through woods (now Herman park in Houston) on the way to school and on the slight chance they might encounter potential dinner in the form of a rabbit or squirrel on the way home, they packed their rifles with them. When they arrived at school the rifles were stacked in a designated corner of the classroom. Despite the fact that many of them played army man games, and/or cowboy and Indians, or had family members narrate war stories, the children NEVER fathomed using their rifles for anything other than hunting game... Imagine that! The guns were stacked up RIGHT there in the classroom.

So what was the difference between their upbringing and now? Now we want to think that the mere presence of a weapon has the potential to take control of a human's ability to discern what should or should not be done with it! I don't like the Michael Moore message because it is yet another insideous way of removing accountability from the ONLY person actually accountable in any given situation... your own self.

It all boils down to EXPECTATIONS. What do we as parents actually expect out of our young children, what foundation do we build for them in their early years to be able to understand the need to tolerate differences, scrutinize oddities, understand their own accountability for their actions and interactions with other human beings?

For the most part we sculpt naturally-egocentric children into "it is all about me" adults by protecting them from the realities of how to get along in life.

One recent sort-of example was on the news last night. Parents of young children pay a dollar to put their lil' kids in a self-contained little-tykes-like shopping cart equipped with a TV and a movie. The parents were happy, kids were entertained - or at least distracted enough not to throw a fit. C'mon, what ever happened to "No" means "No"? What ever happened to, I am not fighting with you, I am the parent, you are not getting a prize for going to the store.. we are here to get food... there is really nothing to debate.

I don't recall anyone ever deciding it was a good thing my generation grew up plopped in front of a TV in the living room. So What do we do? We stick TVs in the kids bedroom, then in the car, and now in the freaking shopping carts.... hmmmm.

Then there is school. Why doesn't the bulk of American children respect getting an education? Could it be that instead of just teaching them the merits of having one, we give them prizes as they grow up... so instead of a child realizing that the education IS the prize, we pay them money for their A's and B's and sometimes even C's completely bypassing the real important part of the whole process... that is: We do many things in life because they are necessary and for no other reason at all.

Afterall, education is a gift to yourself, as well as a responsibility to yourself and society as a whole.

Hey! How about that deal where someone decided using a red pen to grade papers had such a negative impact on children that red pens are not allowed to be used... as if the red ink may just send little johnny over the deep end of despair and he will see no other path for himself other than bad grades, then a crime-spree or two, resulting in nothing less than life imprisonment... all because of red ink.

Why would we ever want to coddle our children this way and send them off into life so ill-prepared for reality?

We carefully craft (or should that be "nurture?") fragile people who have no ability to adjust their behavior to suit circumstances beyond their control, assess wrong from right or fact from fiction, nor tolerate what is different from their own worlds. Oh wait, we TELL the kids about these things but we don't expect them to live and learn the lessons at all. If our children do get themselves in the midst of one of these learning curve encounters the first thing we do as parents is jump in to intervene and look all around for an explaination of who's at fault.

How often do we simply stand back in the midst of whatever life-lesson has occurred and let the lesson of cause-and-effect sink in, or simply ask them: "Despite the unfairness in this instance, WHAT should YOU have done different to change the outcome? Do you realize at times you may have to accept the fact that you could not have changed the outcome at all? Never-the-less child, it is STILL very important you remain in control of yourself and behave appropriately in these situations."

Yet another little thing to factor into the recipe of producing ill-equipped adults... Childrens birthday parties where someone sees fit to always be sure everyone has SOMETHING - not just the birthday kid. Life is NOT like that, what good can come of raising a human to believe things should ALWAYS be distributed equitably? This should be true with siblings... just because this child REALLY needs a new outfit for the school music concert doesn't mean the other child should get something just to make it fair. At some point in their life each person will have to experience first-hand being THE one who goes without, or gets the unfair side of the deal... shit happens, that is life.

I don't know if any of this is coming out just right... it usually takes me a good many attempts at saying something before I can boil it down the the essence of a solidified point. But Thanks Becky for the thought-trajectory :)


JaneDoughnut said...

I think everyone hopes they'll do well enough for themselves that their kids will have it better and have more opportunities than they did as a kid. Maybe it's time to redefine "better."

Lex Luthor said...

I think it came out right and I agree, "Shit Happens"!

Biddie said...

With apologies to the seriousness of your post's message, I couldn't help but leap to the subject of possible violence to more earthy things such as portabello mushrooms ....

Did that little box in the closet produce more than the first 3 that I saw in pictures from long-ago posts???

Michael-Ann said...

Oh Yes Mom! I think in all there were a little over 20 'shrooms that grew from that box! I stopped posting pics just because I figured people may be getting tired of muchroom reports :)

Biddie said...

I was curious ... with due respect to the economics courses I took way back in the ancient days of college ... whether it was cheaper, per mushroom, to buy them in the grocery store or to go the route of boxes in the closet!!
Also, was the taste of them up to par??

JaneDoughnut said...

You know, I was thinking. The very nature of this post implies there is a certain amount of blame to be laid at the fet of American culture. How does that Carlos Mencia routine go? You blew up two of our buildings? We blew up two of your countries! You're developing nuclear bombs? We've used them! We're crazy! That's how we roll!
We like to make violence a virtue when it comes to international policy, and then expect it not to have an effect at home, too. I think maybe our values are in need of a readjustment.

Michael-Ann said...

Yeah I think so Jane... It just seems as all the ailments in our society are actually symptoms of a very basic affliction at the root level of where it all begins... the family unit.

Mom, the shrooms seemed to taste about the same as the ones from the store - my taste may not be so well-formed for detecting the nuances of portobello mushroom though :)

While I enjoyed knowing they were fresh, and I enjoyed very much watching them grow, I had to stop naming them because I was having a hard time eating them.

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