©2018 Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com
When you’ve been on the planet for more than three-quarters of a century, past-time seems so compressed. Sometimes, you feel you’ve been dropped into this age from the 1950s, constantly being confronted with, often shocked at, the differences—as if witnessing it all for the first time.
A trip to the zoo, yesterday, engendered those feelings, this post, and several “Twitter-tweets” this morning, on the subjects of manners, good behavior and society in general. The catalyst for all of this was the children at the zoo and their actions—witnessed-by, yet not addressed by parents. Oh, yes—and one action that was addressed, very inappropriately, by another parent.
Picture being a time-traveler, being jerked from a 1955 trip to Disneyland, as a pre-teen, then suddenly being dropped into yesterday’s crowd at the zoo. One moment you see orderly groups of parents (your own included) with children staying close to the group, enthusiastically chatting and commenting on the new sights but not shouting or running off on their own. You also see the occasional stragglers being brought into line with just a “look” from a parent; or at most, a barely perceivable, but instantly obeyed, quiet command.
The next moment, you are in a modern-day big city zoo with children running ahead of parental groups, climbing on statuary, shouting, even bickering, while parents ignore them, or—like one serene smiling woman in a cave-like exhibit—enjoying the scene of her two-year-old screaming at the top of his lungs, repeatedly, in order to hear his own echo. While the woman luxuriated in her son’s cuteness, other startled zoo visitors, after determining that there was no abduction happening, merely winced in pain from the repeated shrieking. Later, two three-year-olds took off running on a footbridge and were slowed down by a very large man shouting “HEY” so loudly that everyone on the bridge jerked their heads around to see if some violent act was about to take place. My thought at that moment was, “If these children need near-abusive correction like that, to get their attention, then that gentleman is in for some serious strife when they reach teen-hood”
I realize that this piece may be perceived as an example of the curmudgeonly griping of another old geezer, venting his frustration at how the world turned out for him. Well, I’ll admit there is probably an element of that; however, there should also be an element of a valid warning that the ship-of-society needs a bit of a course-correction to avoid sailing off the edge of the Earth. The reader would do well to look at this as more like the tweeting of the proverbial cannary-in-a-coal-mine. There is a difference between: a.) giving children some latitude, some freedom to explore and b.) giving them total license to rampage through life, upsetting apple-carts and the moods of others. I wish there were an easy fix for the problems I illustrate here, but there isn’t. The philosophy of today’s educational system, with its “participation trophies,” and its encouragement of warrantless “self-esteem” is so entrenched, and mistakenly respected, only a great uprising of well-meaning and better-educated people will be able to change it.
If those of us with the perception, the ability and the political power, do not act to influence change in the education of children and parents, into more enlightened child-rearing techniques, there will be an entire history book waiting to be written in the future about our folly—and how that folly brought about the near-collapse of human society.