Sunday, November 23, 2008

State of Affairs - The Next Generation

By no means am I an economic expert and by no means am I a government whizz, but as a tax payer and a recent addition to the American workforce I see changes being made and society is changing due to this.

Go back 10 or 20 years the whole situation was a lot different.

Children graduated in high school once. The whole duration of school was to graduate and to do well.

In sports the winning team got a trophy and the praise, the losing team went back to training, motivated for the next game and to redeem themselves.

When school let out the children would run home and out to play. Climbing trees, playing sports with friends and going wherever their imagination let them go.

Today I see children with severely diminished outlooks on life.

Children ‘graduate’ by just finishing the school year and not by succeeding throughout school.
In sporting events everyone gets a trophy, there are no losers only ‘good sports’.

So based on that what is the point in training, playing the best game you can and emerging the victor? Just show up, never practice and you get the same reward.

School lets out and the children disappear inside to hopefully get their homework done.

But sadly many jump on the game systems and turn on the TV where their imagination is not stretched, but given to them on a plate. Their brains does not create, they are simply told what’s what and to accept it.

A good example is when you open a book.

As you go through page by page you are told a story and your imagination sets the scene for the back drop and the characters come alive in your mind.

Not turn on a movie (maybe a movie based on the book) and what do you have?

You have the same scenes, the same characters but there is no imagination.

You simply accept what is in front of you and when the film has finished what do you have? A memory of the movie and what happened.

Children are no longer being pushed and motivated to succeed. They are no longer being told that if you hurt yourself climbing that tree you just cry for a few minutes on your grazed knee and you try again. Now the parents freak out and have the tree cut down to avoid it happening again. ‘How dare that tree hurt my child!!’

But imagine the delight on the child’s face when they overcome the tree and the grazed knee and reach the top to see the wonderful view around them.

No more are the children being given the feeling of triumph; the struggle to triumph has simply been taken away.

The boy who was too scared to climb the tree after he saw his friend fall will no longer have the newly motivated friend to help him. They’ll just both stay on the ground and watch the tree be cut down and the struggle removed…..along with the possibility of triumph.

What has happened in recent history that has caused this drastic yet mostly unnoticed change?

Why have parents gotten so paranoid about the dangers their children face, yet as children themselves they faced them and succeeded regardless.

As a child I would come home from school, change clothes and go and play in the park with my friends.

We’d climb trees, splash around in the stream, swing on the swings and jump off as high as we could and generally do dangerous things to find our limits.

Compare to today…the trees are fenced off, the streams are off limits and the potentially dangerous playground equipment has been removed.

How are children to learn their limits?

‘Learn from your mistakes’ I was told. You cannot learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Your parents must have told you ‘don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself’. Did you listen?

No, you did it…..hurt yourself and learnt from your mistake.

Let’s move forward now 10 years from now….these children are young adults and entering the working world. How do you suppose they are going to deal with life’s difficulties?

We all know life is hard….you will fall down and you will hurt yourself. But we know that you must get up, dust yourself off and keep going. How do we know that and why do we do that?

Because when you were climbing the tree you fell, you cried, but you persevered and you succeeded.

These next generations of working adults are going to be different, very different indeed.
I fear that on the job training will not only be basic to the job in question but also for the basics of survival.

Working with some of them as contractors now I see they are expecting to be treated as regular employees and given all the benefits the company gives to all of its employees.

They are expecting to work as little as possible and be given a permanent position on a plate for the taking.

They are expecting to be given extra incentive to work other than the pay check they already receive and I for one do not wish to see how they act should the contract not be extended.

The causes for this I believe are a huge mixture comprising of society, the media and the home environment in which children are brought up in.

Let’s use the tree climbing as an example.

Should it be your tree and someone else’s child or someone else’s tree and your child, the fear of being sued is overwhelming. With attorney’s offices advertising to get you ‘free money’ if you’ve fallen or tripped and to reimburse for ‘emotional turmoil’ etc.

They don’t explain where the money comes from. You sue your child’s friend’s parents and I highly doubt they’ll want your child to be friends with theirs anymore. The cut down the tree so no one else can climb it. They sue you so you have to cut down the tree.

So in order to not get sued what do you do? You don’t allow it to happen in the first place. No struggle and no succeeding, just a fear of being sued.

Have you watch television recently?

Now don’t get me wrong there are so great shows on that really boggle the mind, still doesn’t beat a good book though.

But you put on most shows children are watching and what do you see?

Paris Hilton being released from jail surrounded by a media circus.

Britney Spears marrying someone for 5 minutes and then being taken to rehabilitation surrounded by a media circus.

Lindsey Lohan being arrested for drink driving and who is around her yelling, screaming and flash bulbs lighting up the night sky….oh yeah it’s the media.

When did someone being arrested or sent to rehabilitation become an acceptable headline that required such an immense amount of coverage?

We have shows now called ‘celebrity rehab’, glorifying what these idiots are doing.

What kind of picture is this painting for our children? What are they supposed to think with this being front and centre on television?

Personally I’d like to see more coverage on our brave men and women out of the front lines fighting against terrorism and not just the rare yet terrible incidents where they are demonized as killers of innocent civilians. They put their lives on the line for what…..less than $40 a year.

People like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton make how much per year? And what do they do for us? What sacrifices do they make each and every day?

Let’s go closer to home.

Normally when a building is on fire people are running out of it. But no, we have brave fire fighters who run into the burning buildings….what coverage do they get? How much do they make for putting their lives on the line?

Police officers, paramedics……plenty of worthy people our children should look up to and admire.

Picture a child today. How do you think they feel when they’re told a police officer is coming to school to talk to them?

When I was young, that was cool and something to look forward to.

Now…why what happened and are drug dogs coming with him?

I was damn lucky as a child. Not only did I have 2 elder brothers to look up to but my parents were together and still are. Going on 30 years + now and I am so proud of them.

As we all know divorces have gone threw the roof the last decade or so.

The stability of the home is no longer a solid father-mother foundation; it’s now a mother figure during the week and a father figure every other weekend. Worse case you can add in a few boyfriends of your mothers and a few girlfriends of your fathers and what do you have? A messed up child to say the least.

Children are impressionable and what they see is what they learn and grow up thinking is OK.

‘Do what I say not what I do’ does not apply, it never has.

Again you can say ‘don’t do it’, but until they do it they won’t learn.

I know many parents face divorce, but stay together for the sake of the children and I think that is very commendable. Your children come first no matter what the circumstance and that should always be the case.

You are the parent, not your children’s friend.

If your children hate you when they are young, you’re doing a good job.

If your children love you when they are older, you know you did a great job.

As a parent you need to give them a solid foundation, set limits that they know they cannot push and motivate your children to succeed on their own.

Is it not the schools job or the media’s job to raise your children.

The media will show you what it wants to see and the school will show you what you have to learn. You have to learn from what they teach.

You plop your children in front of the TV for 3-4 hours a day then that’s what they will learn from. Sit them in front of the XBOX or PlayStation for 3-4 hours a day and that’s the extent of their imagination, what the screen shows them.

Get them to read a book even for just an hour a day.

Allow them to expand their horizons and learn from experiences that may mean they come home crying a few times.

What knocks you down only makes you stronger for when you get up again.

If you stay down crying…..that’s all you’re going to get.

With the recent ‘government bailouts’ the ‘you are no longer allowed to fail’ generation is rolling in:

It doesn’t matter that the banks lent money they knew people couldn’t pay back.
It doesn’t matter that your team didn’t win.
It doesn’t matter that the unions made it a lot less profitable for companies to manufacture and thus now they are losing money.
It doesn’t matter that you didn’t try your best in school.

Because as long as things continue the way they are you will be taken care of.

‘Who pays for those people?’ you ask.

Why those who did work hard. Those who did succeed despite the struggle involved and those who bettered themselves despite previous failure.

Those who fall down crying, but get up again more motivated than before.

What happens when those people are no more…..I hope we never find out.

-Tony Leach

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