Yes! I know that by the end of this writing, I will have earned an unenviable and undesirable position in the minds of many readers. However, as I have repeatedly stated, the truth will always be told, and a spade will remain a spade and not a garden tool.
Some recent happenings in our community has convinced me that the time has come for adults to break the silence about the pervasive breakdown of moral, family and community values, and to place our children first in our lives, and above all to model the behavior we want our children to learn. During my teaching career and even to present day I am oftentimes asked what’s wrong with our children, and to the consternation of my pedagogical counterparts, and others amidst a puzzled look, I always answer: “the children are fine, the adults are what’s wrong.”
Believe me, I have come very close to being declared “of unsound mind.” The truth hurts, but it will also set you free. As adults we tell our children to be honest, while we lie, cheat and be dishonest, especially at tax time, or while price changing in stores or supermarkets. We tell our children to control themselves while we smack, spank and eject them from our homes. We tell them not to be violent while marketing and glorifying violence. The very last thing children want is adults using violence as a way of resolving differences.
I urge every parent, adult, educator or public leader to conduct a personal audit to determine whether we are contributing to the crisis our children face or to the solutions they urgently need. And if we are not a part of the solution, we are a part of the problem and need to do better.
Our children do not expect us to be perfect. At the same time they expect us to be honest, to admit and correct our mistakes, and to share our struggles about the meanings and responsibilities of faith, parenthood, citizenship and life. Before we can pull up the moral weeds and dandelions of violence, materialism and greed in our society that are strangling so many of us, we must pull up the moral weeds in our homes and community. So many children are confused about what is right and wrong because so many adults talk right and do wrong in our personal, professional and public lives.
If we are not supporting a child we brought into the world as a father or mother with attention, time, love, discipline, and the teaching of values, then we are a part of the problem rather than the solution to the family breakdown today that is putting so many children at risk.
If we are abusing tobacco, alcohol or other drugs while telling our children not to do so, then we are part of the problem rather than the solution in our overly addicted society. If we glamorize violence as fun, entertaining and normal then we are part of the problem rather than the solution to the escalating violence of Black on Black, family member against family member, children against adults and adults against children that is tearing us apart.
If we profess to be Christians and people of faith and send rather than take our children to worship and religious services, and believe that the Ten Commandments, the Koran, the Sermon on the Mount or whatever beliefs we hold pertain only to one-day worship, but not to Monday through Sunday home, professional and political life, then we are part of the problem rather than the solution to the spiritual famine and hypocrisy plaguing this country today.
If we tell, snicker or wink at racial, gender or ethnic jokes or engage in, or acquiesce to, any practices intended to diminish rather than enhance other human beings, then we are contributing to the proliferating voices of racial and ethnic division and intolerance.
If we would rather talk the talk than walk the walk to the voting booths, school board meetings, parent teacher meetings and community meetings to organize community and political support on all sides of the aisle for our children, then we are a part of the problem rather than the solution.
If we are not voting and holding political leaders at every level and every party accountable for investing relative dollars in quality education, housing for the homeless, jobs with dignity and decent wages, then we are part of the problem rather than the solution to the undemocratic, unjust and growing gap between rich and poor.
So it behooves us as adults to examine ourselves and display the intuition towards being the permanent solution.
Aleuta— The struggle continues.