Letters

Letters 10-20-2014

Doctor Dan? After several email conversations with Rep. Benishek, he has confirmed that he doesn’t have a clue of what he does. Here’s why...

In Favor Of Our Parks [Traverse] City Proposal 1 is a creative way to improve our city parks without using our tax dollars. By using a small portion of our oil and gas royalties from the Brown Bridge Trust Fund, our parks can be improved for our children and grandchildren.

From January 1970 Popular Mechanics: “Drastic climate changes will occur within the next 50 years if the use of fossil fuels keeps rising at current rates.” That warning comes from Eugene K. Peterson of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

Newcomers Might Leave: Recently we had guests from India who came over as students with the plan to stay in America. He has a master’s degree in engineering and she is doing her residency in Chicago and plans to specialize in oncology. They talked very candidly about American politics and said that after observing...

Someone Is You: On Sept 21, I joined the 400,000 who took to the streets of New York in the People’s Climate March, followed by a UN Climate Summit and many speeches. On October 13, the Pentagon issued a report calling climate change a significant threat to national security requiring immediate action. How do we move from marches, speeches and reports to meaningful work on this problem? In NYC I read a sign with a simple answer...

Necessary To Pay: Last fall, Grand Traverse voters authorized a new tax to fix roads. It is good, it is necessary.

The Real Reasons for Wolf Hunt: I have really been surprised that no one has been commenting on the true reason for the wolf hunt. All this effort has not been expended so 23 wolves can be killed each year. Instead this manufactured controversy about the wolf hunt has been very carefully crafted to get Proposal 14-2 passed.

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Then Changes

Robert Downes - May 10th, 2007
Heard that a couple of teens got kicked out of a local high school the other day for getting caught with alcohol. Hope they pull through... And did you hear about the first-grader who was kicked out of school for pointing his finger at some kids and yelling “bang“?
It made me think that we sure judge kids by a harsher standard today than when I was a carefree young terrorist.
Times sure have changed, by cracky. Back when teenagers ruled the world in the late 60s, the administrators at my high school were busy creating an experimental smoking lounge for students so we wouldn’t have to go outside to smoke. The experiment lasted less than a year, but still, in that social climate I can’t imagine any of our principals would have expelled a student for getting caught with a beer.
Looking in the rearview mirror from the age of Klebold and Harris, I shiver to think of how we parents would have been judged if today’s standards of zero tolerance were shipped to the days of our youth in the Wayback Machine.
In the 6th grade, for instance, no one thought it was odd to bring a jack knife to my elementary school in rural Grand Rapids. How else would you play mumbly-peg at recess?
A shotgun and bow and arrows were part of my arsenal as a 12-year-old, with most of my pals owning some sort of rifle or .20 gauge. Mad magazine was considered far more dangerous by my teachers, and sure bait for confiscation.
On the other hand, it never crossed anyone’s mind to bring their .22 to school and blow away their classmates. Problems with bullies were solved by shoving matches or avoidance.
As 15-year-olds, my friends and I enjoyed making homemade gunpowder by the pound and blowing up cans of the stuff out in the driveway in suburban Royal Oak. Our stuff was too primitive to get to the level of any IED-style explosions, but we got some spectacular flares and lift-offs. No one saw fit to call the cops — it was just another group of kids blowing stuff up.
Today, we‘d be doing hard time in prison, with the news in all the papers.
And back then, the corner store was happy to sell us bottles of Boone’s Farm apple wine at the age of 16, no questions asked.
Was it too much apple wine in our teen years that prompted my befuddled generation to elect the likes of George W. Bush? Interesting theory...
Today, when kids are expelled from school for packing nail files, it’s because we live in the shadow of Cho Seung-Hui, much the same way the hippies got dipped in blood by Charles Manson.
But it does seem strange.
What caused the shift from a freer society to one where zero tolerance has become a necessity?
You can truck out the usual suspects: Today, one half of all first weddings end in divorce, often with children in tow (that’s up from about 29% of marriages in 1970). And one million children are born out-of-wedlock into fatherless families each year. Violent video games and films desensitize kids while encouraging distant responses, such as shootings. And, according to the Christian Science Monitor, nearly one-third of American high school students drop out, with that level rising to almost half of all minority students. Also, perhaps kids are crazed on junk food, preservatives, sugar and the sedentary lifestyle.
Check all of the above for why kids are kept on a short leash these days.
Add to that my own humble theory. Over the past 100 years, the status of children has diminished in America from useful members of the family to little more than pets. Who wouldn’t feel a sense of uselessness, despair and alienation?
My father and mother were required to work as farm hands in their youth, supporting their families as had been the case for hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. They were vital contributors to the family’s survival, and there was a sense of self-esteem in that knowledge, which is missing today.
Today, contributing to a family’s success is rarely the case for children, who are parked in front of the TV set and left to their imaginations.
Sigmund Freud said that work and love are the prerequisites for sanity. Work & Love... that’s what you need to keep from going insane. Yet our affluent society has drifted far from the need for children to work for their family’s success.
A teacher recently wrote that many students in her class have feelings of depression and despair, and some have even attempted suicide. Isn’t that a logical consequence of feeling useless and unneeded, with no responsibilities to be proud of?
If you don’t keep a pet well-exercised, it can over-eat, get spoiled, demand attention, act up and make a mess. Is tightening the leash the best alternative?
Obviously, we can’t go back to kids doing farm chores or collecting firewood and berries to support the tribe. The “work” we set for children is doing well in school. The trick for parents is to convince their kids that their success in school isn’t just for their own good — it’s vital for the whole family’s success.


 
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