Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For the Children

"For the children" is a cynical rallying cry on the right. It comes from the tendency on the left to introduce every new spending plan, program, regulation, or restriction as being "for the children."

I have been thinking recently about a number of issues related to childhood. I just read a book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, by Alex and Brett Harris. Twin brothers, they wrote this book while they were teenagers and it challenges other young people to refuse to be held back by the low (and often nonexistent) standards that society places on teens. This isn't a book review, so I'm not going to try to summarize what they wrote, but one item in particular has stayed with me.

They claim that the word "teenager" was first used in a Reader's Digest article in the early 1940s. For all of history until recent times there was really no such thing as "adolescence." You were a child or you were an adult. Period. They give examples of accomplishments by young people in the past: George Washington surveying Virginia at the age of fourteen, Clara Barton at the age of eleven, nursing her brother after a fall and teaching a schoolhouse full of children at the age of seventeen. David Farragut, commanding his first ship (a British whaling ship captured during the War of 1812) at the age of twelve. TWELVE.

One can make a solid case (one that I'm sympathetic to) that children at the age of eleven or twelve or fourteen should not be packed off to war or sent into the wilderness (which is what Virginia was back then) to do land surveys. But in our zeal to do what is best for our children we have rushed off to the other extreme, culminating in the Obamacare feature that "children" may stay on their parents' health insurance policies until the age of 26.

Hmmm.

I've decided this is a horrible thing. We allow our children to remain children far too long (I am guilty in some respects of this very thing, I will admit). Imagine a million young adults, around the ages of 21, 22. Think of them heading out into the world to make their own way, to begin careers and start families, to begin contributing to society in material, intellectual, and spiritual ways.

Now imagine that force being removed for four or five years. Let's face it--few of us are disciplined enough to grow up before we have to and if future generations don't have to strike out on their own until they're about to turn 27, well, many of them won't.

We are lowering the bar as a society. Expecting less and less of ourselves, our seniors, our children (and our children who are actually adults).

Ignore politics, refuse to educate yourself, don't bother to get involved because it's hard or boring or just not your thing? No problem. Someone else will do it.

Retire at 62, live another quarter century, taking far more from Social Security than you ever put in? No problem. Someone else will pay for it.

Stay at home until the age of 26, maybe go to school, maybe try to start a band, maybe do a little charity work on the side? No problem. Someone else will pay for it.

None of us want to grow up or accept responsibility for the world around us. I posted a question on my Facebook status a month or so ago, asking if I should bother to argue politics with liberals and one of my church friends posted, "Why would you want to argue?"

Many Christians ARE politically active. Many others, most likely because they're not interested in politics, take the position that "we should only focus on the eternal." I understand that attitude, but here is the problem: when the temporal invades on our right to worship, evangelize, and live our lives the way we believe we should live them in accordance with God's word, it's too late to get involved. The damage will have been done.

For the sake of the children, we have to stop coddling one another. We must require informed action, the willingness to do hard things regarding entitlements, the strength and discipline not to buckle when whiners start to complain. Refuse to be shackled by the low expectations of society (and, hey--the political leadership thinks we're all racist morons, so the expectations could hardly be lower). God has given each of us gifts--determine to use what He gave you to the best of your abilities.

More later...

1 comment:

  1. I think that there is no surer sign of intellectual weakness (or perhaps cowardice) than political apathy.

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