22 April, 2005

When 1252 Words Are Better Than a Picture

I believe it was The Anchoress who tipped me off to Sigmund, Carl & Alfred - a thoughtful, essay-oriented pseudonymous blog by a psychotherapist that hits hard on some issues I care about, as well as some I wasn't even aware that I cared about until I read about them there. This post is particularly good, even as it covers some ground already well trodden by others. One small excerpt (read the whole thing):

The Nazis attempted to hide their evil and deny it. The Islamists can't be bothered. In plain view, they proudly pronounce their aims and intent. They want to subjugate us or destroy us. Officially appointed Arab government clerics reiterate these goals in mosques and on television. School curriculum educates from an early age, the Islamic destiny, to be fulfilled by a never ending Jihad. These aren't matters of debate or issues up for discussion. They are facts. In facing these realities, it is not enough to discuss them or even understand them. They must be dealt with. In doing so, we must be prepared not only to ask the questions, but to answer them clearly and unequivocally. Do we extend equal civil rights to those who's [sic] stated aim is to destroy us? Do we respect the sanctity of a Holy Shrine if it is being used to as a military base from which to shoot and bomb? Do we target schools and hospitals used by terrorists and hiding behind children? Do we refrain from searching women, knowing that terrorists have used pregnant women to smuggle explosives?
On a completely different note, this guest piece on S,C&A also hit home. (I have a daughter about that age.) The author relates a true story of a military friend-of-a-friend:
...the decision was made to have the going away party at a topless bar... The place went wild…except for one guy. He realized that the girl [on stage] was his 16-year-old daughter... This guy wasn’t willing to accept any of the responsibility for what his daughter had done. It was the fault of the people she hung around with, or the drugs she was doing, or something in the water.
The whole piece is worth reading for anyone who thinks they know what parenting is about, or (like me), can't believe the fictions some parents talk themselves into in the name of letting their kids 'find', or 'be' themselves. And while we're on that subject... (and yes, I know this is getting to be a quirky, meandering post already)...

My wife and older daughter and I rented a little-noticed documentary from Netflix the other night that's, well... haunting... and worthwhile. "Devil's Playground" follows several Amish teenagers turned loose in the world at age 16 in a tradition known as 'Rumspringa' (essentially "running wild".) The theory is that - having been brought up strictly in the church to that point - a few years of wild drunkenness, smoking, drugs, sex and fast cars will inoculate them against the temptations of the world and hopefully cement their choice to be baptized into a life following Christ in the Amish church.

I'll give away only part of the ending by noting that fully 90% of these kids return to be baptized Amish and accept the extreme discipline of that life despite some of the wildest partying I've ever seen or heard of.

What the rest of our society misses, it seems to me, is that first 16 years. Many kids (particularly in this wacko-liberal corner of the country) are given nearly free reign from toddlerhood despite behavior that cries out for guidance and limits. My wife and I are considerably younger than the parents of most of my kids' contemporaries. Many of those older parents seem fixed in a 1960's/'70's Woodstock parenting philosophy that essentially boils down to "whatever". Fortunately, my kids seem to have already figured out that many of these kids are already on the road to being pretty messed up. I'll get off the soapbox now. Go rent the film.