The other night I was watching a discussion between sage-like knicker machinists Sean and Julie of Coronation Street.
Julie, who is pregnant, was concerned about the world she was bringing her unborn baby into. This is said often. “What kind of world am I bringing my children into?”
I should start by saying that if that’s your concern, then please do not proceed with any procreational activity. Why would you go ahead and make babies if you believe the world is so wrong and dangerous? And shouldn’t humanity have died out in about 4,000BC with this type of thinking?
Humanity is not going to change.
It has evolved, sure, but unless human nature undergoes some kind of massive personality overhaul, it’s going to stay the same, forever.
And what is meant by “what kind of world am I bringing my children into” anyway?
Are people speaking about it as if it’s some sort of extraneous force that just ‘happens’ to innocent bystanders, while they watch hapless, like a scene from Deep Impact?
We make the world, so whose fault is it, exactly?
The main things that drive us in the West – money, taxes, death, our looks, worrying – have not changed over the centuries.
The levels on the above list fluctuate in New Zealand dependent on circumstances and of course now, more personal choices.
Personal choice. Now that is something to celebrate. In 2014 we have more choices than ever. I personally do not want to hark back to the days of yore when children were seen and not heard, and supposedly much safer.
I like the fact that I can talk to my kids about protecting themselves from strange people in long coats. They like knowing it too. It’s safe. It’s black and white. It’s no bloody secret. Those people are weirdos. Stay away from them.
In my youth we were thought of as rude if we weren’t friendly to every stranger who talked to us. We felt obliged and nervous and didn’t really want to interact anyway, but we complied.
Not long ago a man began talking to my 4 year old son over our gate. The first things he said were, “Hey, I’m all good. We’re just talking”, an octave higher than he should have.
Many years ago as parents we might have saved social face, nodded and smiled at this person. What kind of people would we have been, to turn away such a friendly man?
Bright people with a bit of empirical skepticism, that’s what kind of people.
See how much we have learned? We have choices. We could stomp inside our houses, slam the door and complain about the proliferation of predators “out there” or we could accept that yes, they exist, and how will we deal with it?
It’s great that issues of alcohol, rape, sexual abuse, keep getting in our faces. These issues have plagued us for decades, if we are honest. Now we have to deal with them. We are forced to have an opinion and be proactive.
It’s also forcing us adults to deal with our own issues, our drinking, our own trauma, the amount of time we are spending online, in cars, at work, blindly flailing through the day, while our children look on.
How did we deal with that horrible thing, when that happened to us? How are we going to be there for our kids if that happens to them?
We are being forced to confront the sometimes ugly realism of modern life. It’s not enough to give up and decide not to have children. Or worse, if we have children, show them how arse-whipped we feel by it all.
What our collective job is, as adults, is to stand up and articulate that everything is going to be ok.
Even if it seems otherwise. Yes, even if the weather is bordering on pre-Ice Age status, nine year olds are getting drunk, and we can’t even afford a house in Shannon.
We need to stop blaming the invisible force of society for everything.
We need to get a grip and start figuring out how to deal with it all.
It’s going to take time. There’s no real end point, except to keep saying, “it’s all going to be ok”.
This era is exciting and dynamically changing. I agree that there are things happening in the world that are horrifying and against the principles of humanity. However, we live in a place called New Zealand, where one boy getting drunk has everybody talking and actually caring.
That’s terrible, we think. So what are we going to do about it?
The kind of world we are bringing our children into is a good one. A proactive one.
We’ve gotten so bogged down. We need to spine up New Zealand. It’s a great world.