The kids still aren’t all right

Today’s youth have lost the toughness that the generations that preceded us possessed. I am sure there is a natural regression of the hardiness that comes from the technological advances of each successive generation. But if we were to go back only a few generations from where we are now to our grandparents’ and great grandparents’ eras, we would find dramatic differences in our fortitudes. They were walking 20 miles to school in the snow barefoot, uphill both ways, chopping down trees with their bare hands, and carving faces into mountains with dynamite. It takes me and two of my college educated buddies 4 hours to construct a nightstand purchased from IKEA. Lacking a more eloquent way to say it, we have become a generation of mechanically inept pussies. Our grandparents would wake up in the morning at 4am suffering from the early stages of Cholera and a fractured leg, and proceed to work a 12-hour day in the field tilling, plowing, sowing, planting, and calving. Now I have to call in sick to work if I go to a concert the night before. And then I am struggling to make it to the office the day after that. Not only have we become softer physically, we have become softer mentally. Our ability to process the impediments such as verbal abuse, hardships, and defeat that beleaguers our lives has changed dramatically, and not for the better. This is an ailment that plagues America more than it does other industrialized technologically advanced countries because of how comfortable our lives have become. The more advances we make, the more luxuries we consume, the more we advance the distance from what used to make us tough. And it is, in essence, the reason why other countries are kicking our asses at everything that requires hard work.
The way in which kids respond to getting bullied has changed, too. Before if someone called you a name you went home and cried, or you socked the person in the face, but then it was over and everyone went on with their lives. Nowadays someone calls someone a name, or starts a facebook campaign against them (just the idea of that is lame in so many ways) the targeted kid goes home to pop a bottle of pills to try to kill themselves. Or worse, they get their parents gun or order guns online, and go to school the next day and shoot the place up. I can’t believe I am advocating this, but we need to return to the sport of fist fighting. At the end of a fight, each party has gotten their frustration out, there is a clear cut winner and loser, and both parties go on living. I’m not advocating starting “Fight clubs” in high school, but there is a lot of teenage angst that could be relieved by a few rounds of sparring. Of course that is the role of sports programs in schools. Yes, understanding teamwork, physical and mental conditioning, and building self-confidence are all benefits of sports. But getting out all of the bottled up energy and aggression is important part of them as well. But budget cuts, due to programs like NCLB, have decimated our Jr high and high school athletic departments to the point where there are barely any sporting options available.I remember a time when I was bullied and it led to my first ever fight. This boy for no reason what so ever, just didn’t seem to like me. I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact I had a big mouth and a lot to say. Even at a young age I had a very strong opinion about anything and everything, and I wasn’t afraid to share it.   On this particular morning while we were waiting at the bus stop, he decided that he had enough of my mouth and was going to do something about it. We were in the middle of the time-honored tradition of capping on each other’s moms telling each other how much of a blank the other’s mother was when I had just landed a knock out blow, so to speak.  He decided that he would end our argument that morning with a barrage of physical punches rather than our normal verbal barrage. I was a year ahead of everyone in school and to add to my already small stature, was another year behind them physically. And this kid was a throw back to Cro-Magnon man. I am not saying he was old for our grade but I mistook him for the teacher on several occasions.  So, he was much, much bigger than me physically.  Anyway, he wound up this uppercut and unloaded in my stomach. I am not sure what caused my reaction. It could have been the years of relentless bullying from my sister, it could have been the countless hours I spent in front of the TV watching and mimicking the moves in kung fu movies, or maybe it was from the old westerns I used to watch where the star got hit in the back with a bar stool before he was able to regroup and take out 5 bad guys. Or it could have been the Honeycomb cereal with nonfat milk and an apple that I had eaten only minutes earlier. Well either way, the moment his fist made contact with my stomach, my body decided to hit him with a volley of vomit and bile, that can only be labeled as a complete regurgitation of the contents of my stomach all over him.  It wasn’t my finest moment.  As luck would have it the bus arrived at this most fortuitous moment. Me gasping and wheezing from the punch and the amount of puke that I just thrown up, and him dumfounded and covered from head to toe in throw up. We got on the bus, the bus driver yelled at the boy, and that pretty much ended any interaction we ever had with each other again.  I am not putting this down as a win for me in the fighting department, but I wouldn’t say it was a loss either. I think it is fair to score this one a draw. The success that I had with the human excrement defense is not one that I would advise employing. I mean sure monkeys do it, but could you imagine trying to do that with pants on, and what of the mess you would make in your hands? How much hand sanitizer would we all have to carry with us in those situations? The point I am trying to make is, that both parties walked away from the incident with only minor damage done. Sure it didn’t help my reputation as a tough guy, but it did give others pause when it came time to hit me for opening my big mouth.

Why is it that people are so helpless now? I think it all stems from the fact that kids are no longer allowed to be physically disciplined. I know I have advocated this before, but it is true, kids need to be spanked. In some countries, New Zealand and Sweden for example, you can’t even hit your kid in the privacy of your own house. In your own house! If I grew up in one of these countries, I would be dead by now. You need to learn limits and boundaries. And those limits have physical boundaries. In a super market, in a van outside the store, on a bus, or in the privacy of your own home, if you talk back, act up, or just generally deserve a good whacking your parents should be allowed to give you one. Hell, in some places it was common practice for a complete stranger to whack you if you were acting up. At my grandmother’s church, if I was doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing and she or my grandfather weren’t around, one of the other parishioners would take it upon themselves to smack me. It wasn’t a stranger wailing on me for no reason, just a swift smack to remind me that just because my grandparents weren’t watching, others were. It is the whole, “it takes a village…” mentality. And although it would hurt, it was a temporary thing and it made me aware of my actions. It also taught me a valuable lesson, that if I can’t control myself, others would do it for me.  Nowadays if you even raise your voice at a child, you are a terrible person.  And we wonder why kids are so sensitive today. Toughen up girls. We need to learn that although it is good to solve our problems using our brains and our words, sometimes a situation calls for an act of fisticuffs to bring the problem to a conclusion. I for one think that fighting is not okay. But if the situation calls for it, then you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

Opponents against physical punishment will make the seemingly convincing argument that violence begets violence. If you spank your child you are teaching them that violence is okay. No, no, no. I didn’t say beat the shit out of your child. But a spanking is okay. It shows them that there is a physical response to bad behavior. And at its conclusion, they will be okay. Kids don’t know how to deal with physicality today because they have never been taught the proper venue for it or response to it. They want to hurt themselves or others as a response because they have never had to deal with these emotions before. Instead of you their parent teaching them what it is, they learn from movies, songs, and peers. They think that life is supposed to be fair and everyone should like them. And when something happens that threatens their fairytale existence, they are so confused they don’t know what to do. News flash, everyone won’t like you in life. People won’t be nice to you, girls you like won’t date you, boys will be mean to you if you’re ugly, kids will make fun of you if you are different. If you’re fat, people will poke fun at you, if you have a big nose, kids will make fun of it. I am not saying that is how it should be, but that is life. Is it fair? No. But that is how is works. To shelter kids from the harshness of reality is asinine. You are setting them up to fail later in life. They need to understand that there is indeed adversity out there, and you need to arm them with the tools to combat it. The mental and physical tools. Because if you don’t, that is when they seek out just the physical tools to strike back at the people they think have wronged them. We live in an unfair society. It doesn’t always have a Disney movie ending. The bad guys aren’t usually caught or even if they are, they usually are not held responsible for their crimes. The strong pick on he weak, the best and brightest don’t always succeed, and yes, cheaters win. But you can at least prepare your kids to be tougher than they are.

Have you ever read some of the books that are passing for literature nowadays? Let’s look at 2 similar genre books. Harry Potter is a kid who is mentally and verbally abused his whole life only to find out on his 11th birthday that he is of wizard birth and is a gifted and talented wizard himself. Through out the series he must overcome adversity from both the wizard and human world. He continues to be bullied, but is given the tools and guidance to overcome it. He doesn’t always get what he wants and people are hurt in the process but he proves triumphant because he is able to deal with what life throws him through the support of friends and family, his wits, and sometimes physical violence. Fictitious, yes. Fantasy, absolutely. But it contains strong moral and social messages about being tough and how life does not always work out the way we hope it will. It also shows kids that life sometimes kicks you in the face, and all you can do is to get up, brush yourself off, and keep on going. Let’s look at another popular series, Twilight. In Twilight, this plain ordinary girl falls in lust with a vampire who happens to be a teenager, sparkles when he’s in the sun, and is a vegetarian. Already this book insults my intelligence. As a being that is over a century old he should have no interest in the mundane existence of a morose 17-year old child. But not only does she ensnare this benign vampire, but also has a boy who is a werewolf fall in love with her too. The two fight over her, and when she feels abandoned, contemplates and then tries to carry out her own suicide. Showing us that when life gets you down, end it. Not only that, but the main male character also tries to commit suicide because he is so depressed with his life. What the hell are we teaching our youth? When life is tough, jump ship? That is exactly what the problem is. We teach kids to think they are princes and princesses and that the world will cater to them, and then when it doesn’t they freak out and do all kinds of drastic things. It is scary that this is how we are raising our kids. And for those of you out there saying no, and shaking your heads, I say to you then that, that is how reality TV, Facebook, and pseudo-celebrities are raising your kids for you, since you are not aware this is happening.

It is sad to see how weak Americans have become. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Sometimes you kick ass and other times you get your ass kicked. Today’s youth needs to learn how to deal with that, instead of sensationalizing every small victory or set back. Learn to roll with the punches so to speak. We survived the Great Depression, both World Wars, the tumultuous culture during the civil rights movement, and Bush’s presidency. We are a tough people. We should be able to endure a little ridicule and adversity in our lives.

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About thedailyheard

Just a guy with an opinion and some time on my hands trying to find out where the sidewalk really does end.

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