Wednesday, 7 January 2015

We are the world, we are the children. Awwww.

I used to fear for the world and with it, the future that my children will live through in their inhabitancy. It only seemed to be heading in one direction; eventual, pointless and unavoidable oblivion. All of a sudden though (at the time of writing, at least), I'm excited for them. Theirs, could very well be the generation to make the changes that they themselves and their children beyond, will benefit from.

Being brought up in the 1980's (wow, using 19' as a prefix is beginning to feel ancient), I still consider it to be a time of freedom and feel privilege to have been part of such a golden era. Ask any other "child of the 80's" and most of them will feel the same.

The reality is though, that they were tough times our parents may not look back on so fondly. On the other
hand, times were definitely "simpler" and they would have had the priceless benefit of being less aware and conscious of the mess the world was becoming. This, a comfort unbestowed on those of us manning the contemporary parental front line trenches. As much as this might be a blessing in disguise, I'm almost divided between the pro's and con's of being in the know or a blissful ignorance. Since those "halcyon days", the technological and housing boom of the 90's has brought us into a new era. Capitalism was already in full swing by this stage, but a side-effect of this was on the precipice of kicking in more than ever before, capitalism.

Buying and wanting what we don't really need is nothing new, but in these technological times, where a gadget is only "cutting edge" for a matter of months; before a shinier, slimmer model hits the market, keeping uo with the Jones' has never been such a tough task. It has made us more disconnected from community, from common unity.

I do feel however, that this could be about to change. Whilst I have been scathing in my analysis of social media in the past, there seems to be a new narrative forming. A growing minority, and it still is a monoirty, seem to be waking up to the fact that we've become opposed, ignored and oppressed more than ever before whilst seemingly being placed in a partial societal coma.

I'm not going to start talking of Revolutions. I'm almost scared to use the word anymore, for fear of becoming proverbially derided as a Russell Brand fanatic. The very notion seems to have taken on a comedic tone, ready to be scorned upon at any given opportunity. We seem reluctant to even wonder whether living in a land of said revolution, might seem more appealing to our children than growing up to become a couch potato being forced to stomach another night of television sponsored by the very diet of glugging that's almost as unhealthy as what they're fixating their weary eyes at. Do we ever ask them? They might see the idea of sitting around; with complete abstinence of feeling the need for change due to the very fear of it, as foolhardy as paying your hard earned money to smoke something that tasted like the back end of a bus and would almost certainly shorten your life, might be. What is this dogma we are protecting them from? What is so great about this status quo, we feel the need to help keep it as it is? It's ok, but hardly an existence worth perpetuating any longer. That's where we come in.

I honestly believe, that collectively, as parents, we should be encouraging change by informing our children they don't always have to conform. It's a dangerous concept but I'm not for one minute that they "down crayons" and tell their teacher to "eat my shorts". In fact, I'm all for giving teachers more of the power they once held. Obedience, etiquette and manners are all qualities that I push my children towards more than any other. What I'm talking about is to quash the idea of institutionalised greed.

I think as parents, we sometimes get so caught up in petty (but necessary) daily duties, that we forget we still have a huge influence on the world. The way we bring up our children will affect everyone who comes into contact with them. It's therefore our obligation , to ensure things improve by nurturing the next generation to be better.....better than us, better than me....that's going to be a tough task, mind you. I'm friggin' awesome. We have it all in our hands and yet the majority of seem only focused on making them well-rounded individuals. But that's part of the problem, the only way the world can truly improve is by getting everyone to come together, The Beatles said it, so it must be true. It all sounds well and good making sure your kids are ahead of the rest, but in the grand scheme of things, it just exacerbates the problem.

Look at how events like the London Olympics in 2012 changed your state of mind (if it didn't, you must be dead inside), even if it was only for a few weeks. Now I'm not suggesting we could live in that euphoric state for an eternity, it would be exhausting. You couldn't be that patriotic every day.....if you're an american reading this, this does not apply to need the rain for the rainbow to exist, blah blah blah.....but things can be better. Sometimes we should follow the lead of our children and not the other way around, as is uniformly the case.

I watch mine play with their friends after school in the yard, both genders of all ethnic backgrounds, socialising in almost complete harmony. I say almost, my daughter was pushed around, unprovoked my a mean boy yesterday, she was visibly upset until her friends rallied around her, which is lovely to see. It's all so bloody beautiful and I'm completely jealous of them.

Every generation is an opportunity to reset, re-engage and challenge the people who govern and ultimately control us. I'm also not saying we should use them as foot-soldiers, but to give them the tools necessary to avoid making the same wrong turns that society has been forced into this last 20 years or so. It CAN be a quick fix. Be strict with boundaries, but be flexible and allow them to breathe and get used to making their own minds up.

It's not just by altering the governing system that will help gain us more freedom. Much is made about the gap between the "rich and poor" and how the disparity has been consistently growing for decades, centuries even. Well on top of making the system fairer, we're going to need to instill into our children that riches won't come from their wallets, but from the relative confines of their minds. You can be rich in a number of way. Good friends, having close family ties, possessing good virtues and values. Children need to be taught that compassion, empathy, trust and affection are good traits and won't hamper them. It's not all dog-eat-dog, it's not rocket science.

What we also need to re-learn is that it's ok to say no to them, for them to learn that they can't have everything, that going without won't make them less of a person. If they get the notion into their head that "having" equals happiness, then it's going to be a long road back for them to achieve true happiness when they're older and an even longer path back to us all becoming the kind of society that we all secretly crave.

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