Saturday, February 27, 2010

message to young people

Hi again. Even if you don't hear from me for a while you are never far from my thoughts.

I want to share with you a worry that I have. This is particularly for those of you who are adolescents, teenagers, and young adults (in other words, the younger half of my "young people who are thirty and under" definition ;-)

I am worried that you have been exposed to far too much of the problems that adults must really be tasked with resolving. I am worried that far too many of you have been burdened by adult problems and concerns since you were very young children, and that this trend continues to worsen each day.

Let me assure you that I am not being condescending at all; I am actually being very practical and protective, both at the same time!

Those who know me well know that I feel that a reversal in priorities has taken place. Those adult things that I DO feel you should be involved in, young people, I feel you have been denied participation in and in fact have been placed in enforced infantalization. However, those things that I DO NOT feel you should be burdened with, you have had it forced upon you, while adults should be handling those matters.

I've written before about adult areas that I think you should have more participation in, and I probably will share more about those again sometime, so let's put them aside now so we can focus on the areas I think you should not be burdened with, and more important, WHY I feel that way.

There are several reasons why I wish that you, young people, were not burdened with things that adults, older adults, should deal with on their own. Let me list some of those reasons for you so you can see where I am coming from.

1) Childhood is the only time that you have for genuine, joyous, innocent play, agenda free learning/exploring and other activities. You will never have those chances again once you are either an adult or exposed to adult world and pressures. You can buy toys when you are an adult and you can goof off, but you can never have what you should have had as a genuine child.

2) If you have not experienced childhood the way that you are supposed to, as I describe above, you cannot really be an advocate and protector of the right of your own children or other people's children to have that ideal pattern of childhood in return. For one, you don't miss what you never really had (you miss something, there is a void, but you are not sure what). Secondly you are sucked into the "what was normal for me is probably normal for everyone else" assumption. So you will not really be a defender of other children's right to hassle free and agenda free joy and innocence, without stress, if you have not had that yourself.

3) When the brain is formed, with both its intellect and its emotions, if you do not lay down tracks, so to speak, that are based on childhood joy, freedom from stress (as much as possible), and certainly free of adult concerns and problems, then you do not have access to the strength and serenity that comes from those brain pathways as an adult. As far as the brain is concerned (both intellectually and emotionally), a childhood that is rooted as much as possible in joyous and innocent pursuits and environments is a treasure that sustains you during adulthood, one that can be referenced if not relived. Having a joyous and innocent childhood free of adult pressures leaves a person with more serenity, fortitude, perspective and positive aspirations. A boot camp type of childhood oddly enough does the opposite of what many think because rather than increasing resilience, fortitude and ambition, it erodes at the fundamental spirit that is the basis for all of those desirable attributes.

4) A joyous and innocent childhood based on freedom from adult agenda actually stimulates the economy and lifestyle in the home, schools and community in additional directions than simply where adults focus their attention. The problem with children being younger and younger consumers of adult priorities and products is that the economy and the spiritual priorities become narrowed as emotional and financial investment is made more and more in adult priorities.

Let me give a simple example. This may not be an actually factual example since only God knows what "could have been." But let us speculate together so you can best understand it. Years ago the neighborhood playground was "the" place for children. It was fun, safe and a regular routine for visiting. One could safely assume that as the years go on and more and more children are born that more and more playgrounds would be built (maybe even one every few street blocks throughout the land!) and enjoyed. But we see that has not happened for several reasons. Put aside for the moment the obvious problems of many children not being born due to abortion and broken families/less marriages and so forth, and of crime and blight, including child predators making playgrounds unsafe and thus unused. Focus just on the economics and the community landscape. If more and more children are in the home exposed to and participating only in adult activities, limitations, worries and concerns, fewer and fewer children need and desire playgrounds and so fewer are provided as they are a low priority. That is simple supply and demand economics.

Do you see what I mean? There is both a mindset and a practical penalty for children being hemmed in by adult priorities. Children forget or are never exposed to the joy of a genuine, safe, regular playground (mindset) and as a result, that experience is given to fewer and fewer (the practical penalty). Instead of more and more playgrounds being built, USED, and kept safe, we have adult activities (video games, for example) pushed further and further down the age groups. There is less variety in both a child's experience and also in the resulting environment and economy as a whole.

5) Burnout. Quite simply if you are having to clad yourself in armor to fight adult problems, you will get burned out, depressed, bummed out and plain old tired, way, way, WAY too soon.

6) Anxiety. There are few things more frustrating than worrying about things that you genuinely cannot change as of yet, if ever. This is one of the things that irates and inflames me the most, especially when you look at bogus concerns thrust on children such as "climate change." What the hell are kids supposed to do about that (bogus as it is) but worry and be sad and anxious? Trust me, adults don't even know what to do, but they point children in one false direction after the other and cause them great anxiety, while they sit on their fat asses and do nothing about genuine environmental problems, such as sanitation and pollution, and also the wise provision of natural spaces for species to adapt to any climate change or whatever that might genuinely come along.

7) Ego trips and inflation. When adults feed you the constant line that "you are special" and that "you can make a difference" and you "can change the world," that is simply a lie and it gives you a fat head for no reason. Children cannot change the world, "for the better" or for otherwise. I am not being pessimistic or denying your impact. Children, your impact is to become human beings, to grow up as loved and normal children, to discover your own likes and dislikes, and then, as adults, to start to learn "the ways of the world." When children are hocked to collect dimes for a cause so they can "make a difference," you are letting adults off the hook for solving the problem. Look at Haiti. Their situation has sucked big wind for decades and all adults do is leave a big fat mess and then when something like the earthquake hits, they put guilt trips and inflation of ego on children and make them collect dimes to buy someone poor a shirt in Haiti, rather than getting their fat or bony asses around a desk to actually solve the problems of that country. And meanwhile you children grow up with a false idea of how much you personally can change the world, while not being made known of how you can contribute in the right way and the right time when you have more knowledge, resources and control.


Let me leave this with you to think about. It's tough to become aware of a problem without an easy solution, as I'm not really giving you "action items" in this blogging, something you can do, except for one thing to start. I suggest you work on craving adult things far less, and nurturing the classic activities, play, joy and serenity of childhood as much as you can. Reject being drafted into adult concerns as much as you can.

I realize that is difficult to do as many of you are stuck in very tough adult situations. I'm extending a hand of comfort to you (both hands actually) with this blogging (and ranting a bit too, I admit, heh). Do not have "grown up" and "adult" agenda thrust upon you without you at least thinking about it in your mind, and resist the guilt trip as much as you can. If your caregivers and teachers try to raise your anxiety levels about world problems (or crap going on in your own house), try to counterbalance it by 1) realizing it has always been a tough world and those problems will still be there when you are older, so what is the hurry for you as yet a child and 2) deliberately increase your time and attention investment in classic play or other joyous/exploring/learning activities appropriate to your age.

I hope you have found this helpful and be assured of my constant affection and concern for you.