You've heard it. I've heard it. We've read about it. We've talked about it. And, most of us have complained about it.
It, of course, is the behavior of kids today. It's been blamed on the lack of God, lack of discipline, lack of censorship, too much television, and too much of anything else we don't like about our society. So, one more thing to blame probably isn't going to make a whole lot of difference.
Psychologists tell us that if you want to change your life, you start with small steps. Politicians know this. If you want people to give up their rights and freedoms, you don't start with an outright ban. You make small encroachments for the sake of safety, or security; Or whatever civil, environmental, or social issue that can be propagandised. As George Orwell wrote in "1984", "War is Peace, Peace is War".
You want people to give up a bad habit like smoking or over-eating, you manufacture statistics about the medical and economic costs etc.. You want to censor what you consider obsene, you start with the most perverse and create statistics about sex crimes and child molestation. You want to disarm the public, you talk about violent crime and drugs. Censoring pornography isn't an infringement on freedom of the press. Registering guns isn't an infringement on the right to bear arms. Narrrrrrr . . . . people will still be able buy Playboy and hunting rifles. . . for now anyway. Tomorrow . . . .
So, what's this got to do with kids today?
Up until about the nineteen-eighties, most states and local communities had "blue laws" which regulated or prohibited most business activities during Sundays and holidays. The intent obviously was to preserve the Christian Sabbath as a day of rest and worship, and venerate our national and religious holidays. In so doing, our national character, values and tradions were passed on from generation to generation. But, then the laws were repealed, revoked or ignored in the interest of fairness, etc. The day that had once been revered as a time of worship, rest and family became just another day of working and shopping. As did most of our national holidays. As church attendance waned, Sunday sales waxed. National holidays became three-day weekends and sales events. Local parades, ceremonies and community activities dwindled in size and participation.
Even our attitudes have changed. The few businesses that do close for a particular holiday usually post signs that say, "In order that our employees may . . . . " instead of "In observance of . . . ". They seem more concerned about the inconveniance to their customers than the importance of the holiday. I suppose one should be grateful at least that they allow their employees the day off.
Yet people complain that this or that holiday doesn't mean anything any more because it has become "commercialized", but who made it so? The manufacturer? The retailer? They can't make you buy the products they offer. Nor can they make you shop on the holidays. If anyone has commercialized the holidays, it's the consumer who has made it profitable.
Even worse perhaps are those who complain about the time, energy and expense of the holidays. What values do they impart to their children?
Christian fundamentalists claim lack of prayer in the schools is the cause of what is wrong with America. But, lack of prayer is the symptom, not the cause. You can stop people from reciting verse, but you can't stop them from praying.
It's not the parades or the ceremonies that are important. Our values aren't passed on in the red-letter days of a calendar; But, the pause in our routine . . . to point, to explain, to honor those who fought, those who died, and remember what they fought for, and be thankful for what we have as Americans. What it means to be an American.
That is what my parents shared with me. That is what I shared with my children.
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
by Hal Evan Caplan.
A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.