I am posting this in response to several threads that have come up as of late. In all of them, I see one continuing philosophical question: what
should we do for our children?
In every case, the discussion has strayed from the issue of the children's best interests, to one of social injustices. Thusly, I post this, in hopes
that we can talk out the problems as they pertain to our youth, arguably the most vulnerable in our society.
In Teach 'the pleasure of gay sex' to children as young as five, say
, the debate is over whether or not the program will make it easier for gay folk to coexist with others later in life.
In Homeland Security Uses Sesame Street
, the issue is about whether or not DHS can be
trusted to not turn the program into indoctrination (a'la Hitler).
In Woman Gets Life Sentence For Sex With 5 Year Old Boy
, the talk is turning to
whether or not a child can consent to sexual relations.
In Chicago Proposes Separate Schools For Homosexuals
, the talk was about whether or
not this was a return to the days of segregation.
These threads all have one thing in common: they concern children. They have another thing in common: the discussions for the most part ignored any
concerns for the children. Now, this may be a sensitive subject for some, but the fact is that none of us will live forever on this earth
all grow older and get feeble, and we all eventually die. That is true no matter how much you exercise, how well you eat, how many doctors you see, or
even if you give up any of the myriad of vices our society has available. Smokers, non-smokers, drunks, tee-totalers, druggies, naturalists, we all
will someday die.
In our place will be the next generation. It's a circle of life (to quote an old children's movie). I have cared for my children and tried to raise
them to be upstanding, compassionate, intelligent people. I could do so because I have my health and I am able to work and support them. Yet I also
have wisdom of a few years to impart to them, hopefully to ease some of the potential problems they have faced and will face in the coming years.
Someday soon, they will be adults. At that time, my role will diminish to simply advisor, and hopefully, friend. They will make their way into the
world, and stake their own claim to everything life has to offer. Someday after that, I will become too old to work. Then it will be my children who
are now raising their children, and I will have the honor of helping to impart a lifetime of experience and wisdom to their children. Perhaps they
will help care for me when I am so old that I can no longer care for myself, as I cared for them when they were too young to do so.
This cycle has repeated itself untold times throughout human history. Parents raise their children, grandparents advise, and children learn. The roles
continue from one generation to the next, with each generation able to build on the successes and avoid the failures of those two directly preceding
But today, I see a change in this pattern, and it troubles me greatly. We, the parental generation, seem to be ignoring our roles, instead using the
children for social experimentation and as pawns in political power plays. Instead of concentrating on what is best for the children, we seem more
concerned with using them to force social agendas on themselves and their parents, or as social guinea pigs to test new approaches to 'fix' the ills
of society as we each see them.
So what is our role in this circle of life? Are the children 'property' to be used to test our own philosophies? Are they tools to be used to force
others to conform to our own beliefs? Or, as I believe, are they a precious gift to be nurtured and taught so they can improve our society as they see
fit, based on what we have taught them?
What is the role of school? Is it to teach science and mathematics and language and literature? Or is it there to teach more subjective things, like
compassion and acceptance? What happens when the school curriculum is at odds with the beliefs of the parents? Should the parents step aside, or
should the school? Which will best serve the children and not ourselves?
What about trials? Should we allow our children to learn the hard lessons that come from being a unique individual in a society? Or should we
segregate them from these trials until they are adults? If we allow the trials to exist, should we make our children handle them themselves, or should
we try to ease the trials for them? Perhaps we should force our own personal beliefs on them? Or perhaps we should allow them to make up their own
minds, even if that later puts their beliefs at odds with our own?
Should we allow them to be children, encouraging the happiness and blissful ignorance of those younger years? Or should we expose them to the trials
and hardships which adult life will inevitably bring?
Exactly what is best for the children?