I get to spend about 45 min with my 9 month old son Nicholas each morning before I go to work. I treasure that time because I get to watch him think and play. As a student of learning now, I am always trying to figure out what he is thinking about and why he decides to do things the way he does them.
For example, when we give him puffs to eat (little soft cereal things) he picks up a few in his right hand, uses his left to eat the rest on the tray, then eats the ones in his right hand he was saving. Why? Who knows but it’s funny to watch. 🙂
He is very curious and wants to investigate everything. He has no real experience base to work from so he really does try everything out. When he finds a new object he 1. picks it up, 2. shakes it, 3. puts it in his mouth. He just has a joy with life because everything is fresh and new to him. He hasn’t known loss or heartbreak. Nobody has been mean to him or hurt his feelings and he always has a smile for other people.
So when I see videos that kids are posting on Youtube and Facebook about them playing the knockout game, it causes me to pause. If you don’t know the knockout game is when a group of teenagers sneak up on a stranger, hit them on the head as hard as they can in an attempt to knock them out and then run. Usually someone else is filming this. So how does a kid go from the sweet, innocent child I play with every morning to a callous thug who enjoys hurting others?
I think it has to do with rules.
When I was growing up, I had certain rules I had to live by. However, I was also instilled with common sense and a sense of right and wrong. If I wasn’t expressly forbidden to do something, I still knew it was wrong. Even if nobody caught me doing it, I knew and I felt that God knew. That was enough to regulate my behavior.
These days the state is displacing God as the arbiter of what is allowed and what is not. If you look at schools today, they are just awash in control and rules. In fact in many cases, the school even overrides the parent’s wishes. The state is claiming more and more control over our daily lives. In places like New York City, they are banning things such as large sodas and trans fats. The Federal government passed a law a few years ago essentially banning light bulbs. The Federal Register, which is the list of all the US regulations (not the laws, just the rules) was 78,961 pages in 2012. It is quite likely that each of us breaks some of these regulations every day without realizing it. Perhaps there are so many laws and regulations that it creates a feeling that if you can get away with it, then it’s ok? Even our President has made a habit of selectively enforcing the law and even changing parts of them he doesn’t like. That must have an influence on our kids.
Don’t we teach the Golden Rule anymore? “Do onto others as you would have done onto to you.”
These kids are bombarded by messaging in society telling them what is cool and what they need to buy. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which is a day where we give thanks for what we have, and then go out at 6pm that night to buy the things we don’t have. What kind of society do we have where kids can operate with no thoughts to consequences and with no apparent conscience? Where the only rule seems to be, do what you want as long as you can get away with it. If there’s nobody there enforcing the rules, it’s ok. You can’t legislate morality. You can’t create enough rules to create fairness and equality because it ends up relieving the citizens of the burden of self regulation. This then leads to the knockout game.
I am hopeful that society will have a renaissance of values and turn away from the path towards becoming a souless entity. Perhaps writing this blog can help in a little way. I know I will raise my son to believe in right and wrong and to have integrity and that will be my contribution to humanity.
I want to write a post tomorrow for Thanksgiving but I’ll be traveling so we’ll see. If not, have a great holiday for all those who celebrate it!