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Not a Watchtower reader
I keep trying to tell myself that those two decapitated Jehovah's Witnesses in the Philippines really were a bad thing. Maybe they rang one doorbell too many.
Re: Can Kids Handle the Truth? (9/10)
Ancient Chinese secret, eh?
The healthiest means of dealing with unpleasant truths is to confront and illuminate them. This is, at least, as true for children as for adults. There is far too much assumption that people are incapable of absorbing and dealing with these blows. Our leaders presume it is their role to shield us. Shielding our children, in turn, is just as unnecessary and unhealthy. It creates an atmosphere of mistrust between parent, child, and teacher just as disinformation by government creates an atmosphere of mistrust among citizens.
This does not mean we should force information on our children unprepared. The right course for parents is to prepare kids in advance to deal with their emotions. We have been conducting a national dialog on this for over a year, yet spent little time listening to how kids are feeling about it. Are they getting the right sort of message from what they hear and see? Do they understand the self-justifications made by terrorist, hate groups, societies and governments alike; and recognize them for what they are? Do they know how to decide for themselves what is true and what is propaganda? Are they secure knowing they are protected, yet are also part of the system of self-defense? Are they learning how to stand-up to bullies without becoming one?
If they are having strong emotions, what message does it send them that even the First-lady of the nation thinks they can't handle it? These same children have seen the events of "Waco Texas", "Ruby Ridge", "Oklahoma City", and the "Colorado school shootings", as well as the "Twin Towers attack"; all in full-color, stereophonic, real-time coverage. The nightly TV news is strewn with stories of drive-by shootings, gang-wars, abductions, parents drowning children, children shooting parents, car crashes, houses burning, floods, drug-deaths and rape. Yet we must shield them from the current media flaunting and flogging of our national pain? Are they not to be allowed participation in the national longing to find meaning, healing and pride? It is considered ok to impart to them every noxious issue of sexuality, sex orientation, drug-use, divisional diversity, and mental deviation. It is ok to justify and encourage positions that are mentally uncomfortable and morally dishonest. Yet, it is not ok to help them make sense of horrors inflicted on us by twisted, evil people?
National leaders are not unlike parents in their motives for secrecy and protection. But this nation was established under the concept that people are resilient and capable of managing their own affairs. We take it as a given that governments are inferior to self-sufficiency. This applies to children also as they mature. I do not want my child robbed prematurely of his childhood, yet his own quick intelligence and questing for understanding easily outraces any shield I could deploy. I share the First-lady's belief that children should be preserved from artificial exposure to "adult matter". It should not be forced on them as it has been in the media and schools. They should come into such knowledge in the proper time and stage of development. But the larger events and issues, the ones that arrive unbidden, or beyond our control must be dealt with by talking with them positively, and by listening to them rather than ducking an issue.
Ultimately, a sense of self-sufficiency is the best (and probably only) protection we can impart to them. To paraphrase a chinese proverb: "shield your child from adversity and he'll be ok... for now. Teach him to handle adversity and you will shield him for life."
Have I mentioned that I don't watch television?
As a reader of Reason magazine I have come to appreciate the differing points of view presented by your magazine. I do not always agree with the writers, but respect the intelligent dialogue that your magazine represents.
I understand that your piece was editorial in nature, and a legitimate expression of your opinion. I am one of, what I would assume is, an excessively small percentage of Americans who choose to turn off the television and memorialize the events without the help of the national media.
My question about your article revolves around this statement:
But the first lady's anti-TV counsel is based on the notion that kids have especially delicate psyches, and need extra protection from the facts of reality when such facts are violent and unpleasant.
I admit I am a single person with no children, so my parenting skills are on the theoretical end of the spectrum. As I understand it the role of a parent is to guide and nurture a child to becoming a healthy and productive member of society. Protecting a child on an emotional level is as big apart of nurturing as protection from physical trauma. They do not have the life experience nor mental capacity to process images and information as adults. Children are not just short adults, they are more delicate, and they do need the protection afford to them by their caregivers.
In a time when children are growing up faster then seems possible, when they are confronted with social issues that were unimaginable thirty years ago, I think it is a wonderful idea to protect the remaining innocence of childhood, we can be assured that the harsh realities of the world will be waiting for them when they are ready to handle them.
Laura Bush, as a parent, an educator and intelligent human being offered reasonable advice to a nation of parents looking for ways to help their children understand a totally irrational act. If as you suggest " Kids should understand it, not hide from it." do you have the resources to explain the concept of death to a child who has not yet mastered the concept of forever, or national policy to a mind whose highest priority is figuring out a way to stay up past bed-time.