Saturday, October 17, 2015

Children and Dogs Ran Free!

Bicycle trails through the woods were the
shortest route between everywhere and
and everywhere else.
Saturday morning after chores were done, we'd get on our bicycles and go. We'd be home by sunset, usually, without many rules about where we'd go or what we'd do.  We were perhaps as close to free as is possible for a creature to be, and it was magic.

Two blocks from home was the edge of the woods, then by trail to the railroad tracks and across, then through a huge cornfield to a country road and another three miles to my best friend's house.  We'd launch our adventures from there, sometimes with fireworks we bought at the gas station.

Children no longer run free like that; it's not a safe world for them like it was fifty years ago. Why is that?  My little daughter used to disappear early Saturday mornings with a dozen or so of her friends.  She'd come home by sunset with stories of adventures and play.  But that was in Japan in the 80's, not here.

Today, children rarely go anywhere alone.  They don't even wait for the school bus alone.  What changed, and why?  It's worth noting the specific ethical and moral changes, the social changes we've experienced in recent decades.

  • Has the mainstream media weakened our culture, sensationalizing bad behavior?  Absolutely. 
  • Have the business and personal standards for morality and ethical behavior declined?   Of course.
  • Have families become isolated, hiding at home, instead of being part of an interactive community?  Yes.
  • Have character and nobility disappeared from our instructional goals?  In many contexts, yes.

Is there a good way forward from here?  
Absolutely, but probably not for all, and probably not a gentle journey.  Today, things are not as they seem.  You and your children were born into a world at war.  Everything you do matters.                                    ~ C.S. Lewis, paraphrased

Picked a side yet?