The Lord has been trying to help me learn that I have not only a right to speak my opinion, but also an obligation to try to help those around me, specifically those in my circles, to see things the way I do. Not so much so that I can have my way, but to raise their sights and their thinking as they try to implement policies and activities that affect those in my community. I really do not like the process, because I do not like to have to defend my position and because my opinions are often so very different from those around me. I like being included, not left out, not leading out. But sometimes, at least in these times, that is what the Lord needs us to do.
|copyright Karen Larsen photography|
So here goes.
I have been reading a lot of CNN lately. I have been so very saddened by the repeated reports of people hurting others, especially children. It really breaks my heart that such innocent lives are taken for such senseless reasons. With the rash of school shootings and violence from the college campuses all the way down to elementary schools, I am left to wonder what is happening to our young people. How do they get to a place where they commit such violence against other children, at such young ages??
To me, it says, something is very, very wrong in the lives of these children.
Now, before you quote me as blaming the parents, that is not what I am trying to say. I think even very good and attentive parents can have children who make bad choices and get into bad things and make decisions that break the hearts of those parents.
Some parents are trying to say this is the problem of the NRA and we need stricter gun control laws. That may be true. I am not sure that is the only problem, however.
Personally, I think our issues are much, much deeper than that. Legislation never solves the entire problem. It might mitigate issues, but truthfully, people who are bent on certain behaviors just find loopholes in the laws or propose other legislation that will allow them to do the things they want to do.
Some people blame Hollywood and the movies it produces and the violence it displays. Yes, I think some of our issues come from what we see and how it is portrayed. Psychology has long cited the Bobo doll experiment in announcing the finding that children who view violence (personally with their own eyes, or through a television screen) are more likely to mimic the behavior they have seen, sometimes even escalating that behavior. So yes, the things our children watch, whether on TV, on the movie screen, over the internet, on their phone, at a friend's house, all of that plays a role into what behaviors our young people are finding as acceptable.
When I was a child, the term was "Latch Key Kid," which basically meant, your parents weren't home when you got home from school. Did you know that most adolescent sexual activity happens between 3 and 5 p.m. Isn't it interesting that those are the same hours that children are home from school, but parents aren't home from work? Does that really surprise anyone??
And how about those violent video games, the first person shooter ones where they player actually shoots other people? Do we really think that doesn't have an affect on the minds of our youth?
Here is another thought. If these children had close relationships with significant adults in their lives, do you not think that some of their private thoughts might trickle out into their relationship and then be molded and shaped and changed into something less violent? When children have someone, anyone, in their lives, who can help them to redefine some of the misconceptions that happen in childhood, they can have a dramatic effect in reframing the child's view point and the meanings that child espouses to people or situations. Then those same people can help them understand the consequences and sorrow and suffering that would happen should the child choose to act on those violent thoughts.
Are we so very busy with our careers, volunteer work, and other responsibilities that we are neglecting the mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the smallest people in our communities? Are they growing up lonely and feeling like no one cares? Are they left to themselves for hours during the week where they can endlessly entertain themselves on a dribble diet from the internet or Hollywood? Or practicing the very behaviors they one day chose to carry out in reality by playing first person shooting games? Where are we, the adults, for these children left to themselves?
Now, I understand that probably most of you who are reading my ranting are probably the parents who are there for your children. You are helping them to see the good in the world and helping them learn about being fair, and just, and sharing, charity and learning how to love your neighbors. I think that is probably most of you. And you are doing a wonderful job!
But we need to do just a little bit more.
I believe the major problem resides in the hearts of our people. As we understand our responsibilities to one another, particularly our responsibility to nurture, love, teach and train the rising generation, and as we participate in that responsibility, whether it is with our own children, or others in our communities---through church, neighborhoods, schools, clubs, recreational activities--showing them love and concern, correcting their negative behaviors toward others, we help to make the world a better and safer place---especially when it is done one child at a time.
Do we really believe the day care worker who watches 20-30 kids every day for 6 or more hours is really concerned with the morality and feelings of each and every one of those kids? Or is he or she just going to work, like you do every day, just hoping to make it through the day? Even if your day care provider is amazing and loves your child, do you think they will do a better job taking care of that child's needs than you, as their parent will? How do you think your child feels about their situation and who loves them?
|copyright Karen Larsen photography|
"Children are an heritage of the Lord." Psalms 127:3 They are a gift, given to us by a loving Heavenly Father in the hopes that our interactions with them and our understanding of our responsibilities to them will grow within us the ability and desire to nurture them and to make sacrifices for the growing child who completely relies on us and our willingness to care for them. They are not a pet that you can slough off responsibility for when you have decided that you really do not want to do this anyway.
Parenting is not a right. It is a gift. It is a responsibility. Our communities are too concerned with the rights of adults at the neglect of the rights of the children. The littlest people in our society have a right to a protected childhood, to be cared for, nurtured, taught, trained, and loved. They have a right to have others make sacrifices to care for them, to do for them what they cannot do for themselves, until such time as they are capable of managing that. In our day of me and mine, and what do I get out of it, we are leaving our young people alone and vulnerable long before they are prepared to manage the information they have available to them. We need to be more involved in their lives, especially as they are maturing into adults, during those rocky teenaged years when they believe no one likes them even when they come from stable homes with loving parents. But we especially need to reach out to those children and teens who don't come from stable homes and let them know that someone is thinking about them and someone really cares about how they are feeling.
We---the adults---need to be available and proactively seeking opportunities to reach out to the rising generation. We---the adults---need to be making sacrifices in our own lives to teach and nurture those children in our communities so that the rising generation understands its responsibilities to all of us and to the future generations after them. If we do not show them how to do that, who is going to? No one. And the generations after them will not have a chance.
Then, we have the responsibility to help others in our communities and within the sound of our voice understand their responsibility to the rising generation. We must share our views in the hopes that others will listen to us and quiet the loud voices of me and mine. We need to think in terms of us and we----ours. Our society is sick. Our society needs change. Our society needs morality. We need to do something. We need to make sacrifices that will bring up the rising generation in light and truth.
There is my soap box for the day. Let the nasty comments begin. I am ready.