-Z- (z@gundam.com)
Thu, 14 Sep 2000 17:53:30 -0700


> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-gundam@1u.aeug.org [mailto:owner-gundam@1u.aeug.org]On
> Behalf Of L. M. Lloyd
> Sent: Thursday, September 14, 2000 16:22
> To: gundam@aeug.org
> Subject: Re: [gundam] (Slightly-0T)Government crackdown on violent
> entertainment
>
>
> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
> Hash: SHA1
>
> Here I have to ask, what do you consider the "right" way to approach
> our children? You talk of stealing their innocence, a phrase I hear
> quite often, but what is this innocence? As far as I can tell, this
> idea of a sanitized innocent childhood, is a fantasy based on a
> period of time starting with the child labor laws set early in the
> 20th century, and ending with the '60s. Now, we are looking at a
> little less than 50 years of human history, and saying that out of
> the entire span of human existence, that period should determine how
> we treat our children?

"Innocence" is exactly what the word means, the state of being unacquainted with
evil. We lose this soon enough on our own, without having vice foisted upon us
in the guise of popular culture.

I don't recall saying anything about "sanitized" childhood, nor did I say
anything about childhood being pleasant. And I advocated nurturing, not
sheltering -- there's a difference. When I was growing up, there was an
awareness that the children were watching and listening and that people made an
effort to protect children.

Except during genocidal conflicts in which no one, man, woman or child, was
safe, children have, until recently, been regarded as something to be nurtured
and protected. I remember witnessing a shootout between two rival gangs, during
which a child wandered out from a neighboring house. The gunfire ceased
immediately, one of the gang members ran out and carried the child back to the
house, and then it was back to business as usual. They might've been aiming to
kill one another, but neither side was willing to put a child at risk. Necer
mind that they child would grow up to be in one gang or the other, shooting it
out the same way. Children were simply off limits, not fair game.

Crimes against children used to be abhorrent even to the most hardened criminal.
The life expectancy of a child molester was measurable in weeks, because he'd be
killed by the other inmates, usually with the tacit assistance of the guards.

Child labor was instituted during the Industrial Revolution by the same types of
people who are targetting children commercially today. It lasted only so long
as they could keep the children separated from their families, just as slavery
rings do today and have always done. It was abolished just as soon as there
were a critical mass of workers, mostly women, in the cities who could oppose it
with a strong enough voice to get the laws enacted.

> Perhaps you do not remember childhood as well as I do, or perhaps
> your childhood was far happier than mine, but my entire life I have
> been struck with how outright cruel children are to each other! I see
> very little of the pure innocence you attribute to children. Growing
> up, it was not the media, nor advertising, nor the world of adults
> that caused me to become the cynical, slightly asocial man I am now,
> but rather the derision and cruelty of the other children around me.

Children are animals who must be taught how to be human. It's the resposibility
of adults to teach them by way of example and ideal. When children's fare
becomes the same as adult fare, how will they learn to be human?

> I do not mean to step on anyone's toes, and I realize that everyone
> wants to believe that their child is a perfect little angel, but
> think back people! If you weren't picked on as a child, then you
> probably amused yourself by picking on those beneath you in the child
> social order.

I was a minority of one. But I was an idealistic minority who always believed,
and still believe, that the truth will out and the justice will be served. All
it takes for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing; conversely, for
good to triumph, it's required that good people work together and stand up for
what they believe is right.

That's not easy when you've never seen it done, even in fiction.

> Throughout human history children have often been considered the most
> resilient and adaptable examples of our species. For the bulk of
> human history, it has been believed that the more hardship a child
> endures, the greater their strength of character will be when they
> reach adulthood. Now, whether you agree with this or not, that has
> been the case for most of the time humans have existed, and we made
> it here. Yet now we cry that our children are "growing up too fast!"
> Only a few hundred years ago a boy of 15 was middle-aged, yet now we
> worry about the idea of a 15 year-old boy seeing a picture of a nude
> 18 year-old girl? 100 years ago children watched people die next to
> them from black lung disease while working in a mine, yet we are
> worried that it will irreparably harm children to see a person on TV
> smoke a cigarette? Today, in the third world, gangs of 8-15 year-olds
> rob and sometimes murder people, yet we are worried that playing a
> first person shooter will unalterably warp our children?

No, being treated like a commodity, and a throwaway one at that, is what warps
our children. A hundred years ago, news traveled slowly and one was surrounded
for the most part by an extended family. Now we live in pockets of isolation,
where neighbors are strangers, and where we're constantly bombarded by messages
we can't ignore.

Seeing someone smoke a cigarette isn't the problem. Being bombarded with images
and messages that tell you that it's cool to smoke and that you can't possibly
be cool unless you smoke, messages targetted specifically to disenfranchised
youth who want desperately to be accepted by those other cruel kids you cited
above, that's the problem.

> I say that we give children a little more credit. They are just small
> people. They don't need the world to be sanitized for them, they need
> to be shown how to deal with the dirty world in which we live. I am
> not saying that our current media does this, nor am I saying that it
> is our media's responsibility to do this. What I am saying, is that
> shielding our children does not get rid of the fact that these
> factors do exist in our society, and they will have to deal with them
> sooner or later.

By that line of reasoning, we should raise our children naked in the back yard,
because they've got to get used the cold and the rain and the dirt, as it's a
cold wet dirty world out there.

You train for things by working up to them gradually, at the pace appropriate to
your ability to handle it. In martial arts, we bow to the mat, reminding
ourselves that there won't be a mat to help break a fall in a real fight. We
wear protective gear long after we've trained to the point where we don't really
need it.

We all grow up sheltered to some degree, just as we all grow up buffeted by the
world around us despite all anyone else might do for us. I'm not saying that we
should shield our children more, but rather that we should stop preying upon
them to feed our economy.

> As unfortunate as it is, I have seen people cussing up a storm in a
> Fortune 500 corporate board room, so why try to shield our children
> from language that so permeates our society? Before I was 18 I had
> seen 2 people shot right in front of me, and had seen more dead
> bodies than I care to count, so why try to shield our children from
> violence when they will see it out on the streets? When I was in
> elementary in LA, I had people try to sell me drugs, so why pretend
> that no one uses them when they are going to have to face the choice
> themselves, and their peers will be the ones using the drugs? In all
> of these cases I was able to come through without embarrassing myself
> by lecturing a VP about his use of language, without becoming a drug
> addict, and without getting myself shot. Why? Because I was educated
> in the way the world really works, rather than some sanitized fairy
> tale cleaned up for my consumption.

I didn't advocate ignoring violence, only that we should stop glorifying it and
presenting it as a solution to conflicts of interest. Bad language permeates
our society because it was allowed and even encouraged throughout the media. I
recall when it wasn't tolerated and, as a result, was rare and actually
offensive. When strong language is common, it cheapens the currency, so even
stronger language is required to have any effect. Eventually, no language is
strong enough and other measures must be taken.

Ditto violence. What was once intolerable, even unthinkable, is now
commonplace. We revel in it and thus encourage it.

It's easy to lower standards, difficult (if not impossible) to raise them once
they're lowered.

> By building a perfect fantasy world for your children, all you do is
> make it hard for them to know how to deal with real world situations.
> It is just like any other aspect of life, the more you know about it,
> the better you are able to deal with it, and ultimately that is what
> we all want isn't it, for our children to be as successful as they
> can possibly be at their chosen field of interest, without becoming a
> drug addict and without getting shot?

I never said anything about building a fantasy world, much less trying to move
into one. What I said was that we owe it to our children to instill in them the
most positive values we can, with the understanding that these are ideals for
which we must strive, despite all that the world may throw at us. Yes, there is
evil out there, but in here we try to keep it out there and, when we venture out
there, we try to deal with evil without become evil in the process.

In aikido, you don't answer violence with violence. You redirect violent action
and neutralize it. You never let the violence touch you.

In other words, preserve your own innocence, whatever little you may have left.

-Z-

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