I just read this article from NPR. Apparently, the U.S. Postal service is all but canceling the "Operation Santa" program that allows volunteers to reply to children's letters to Santa. Evidently there was a sex offender volunteering for the program. A few thoughts regarding this turn of events:
1. Growing up, my parents did not teach me about Santa. I do not feel any lasting ill effects from this (apparently) gross omission from my childhood, and I have no intention of teaching my own 10-month-old son about Santa. The way I see it, there's plenty of awesomeness surrounding the holidays (family, traditions, etc.) without introducing a fictional character to spice things up. (Before you all post angry comments: yes, I am aware that Saint Nicolas is a historical figure; he bears little resemblance to the pot-bellied apparition that we've created.)
2. The previous point notwithstanding, I have no problem whatsoever with those who choose to do the Santa thing. I don't think it's sacrilegious, silly, irresponsible, or any other negative adjective. You like Santa; good for you. I'm all for whatever makes the holidays happy for you and yours. Merry Christmas.
3. The real reason though that I'm writing about this whole turn of events, is this: I think we Americans overprotect their children. Are we really going to nix an entire program that has (presumably) given joy to thousands, maybe millions, of children...because of one lousy sex offender? Now, I'm not suggesting that a known predator should be allowed to continue interacting with children. But maybe we could just deal with the lone perverted perpetrator and let the program be? My point here is that it seems like a slight overeaction, don't you think? To borrow from the article, it seems like an "explosion of the elephant gun in a panicky attempt to dispatch a random ant".
You may disagree with me; that's cool. We're all entitled to our own take on the matter. However, there are some academics (who I happen to agree with) who believe that within the next 15 years (maybe less) there will be a backlash to the current trend of over-protection. Our kids will feel so smothered, so stifled, so cut off from experiencing life...that they will eventually rebel (as individuals, and thus collectively as a generation).
Now, I don't think most parents want their kids participating in the next generation's version of the "stick-it-too-the-man" 1960's (complete with anarchy, sex, drugs, and rock & roll). I know that's not the future that I've envsioned for my son.
So, maybe a little perspective is in order. Let's keep the elephant gun holstered, huh? What'd ya say?
P.S. If you're the geeky type (like me) who enjoys learning about sociology, patterns, and why things happen they way they happen, then check out this book, it's changed the way I look at society and history.
The following is from a blog that I read written by a Navy Chaplain who has served for 28 years; this is a small excerpt from his Veterans Day post. To read the entire post (which I highlyrecommend), or if you're interested in following his blog, visit his website at http://padresteve.wordpress.com.
We serve because we believe in the ideals of this nation and unlike wars past, the “Good Wars” where there were homecoming parades after surrender ceremonies we come home to a nation which mostly has not been at war, a nation that we have protected and served in harm’s way when most Americans were told to be patriotic after 9-11 by President Bush by “going shopping.” In the midst of all we serve, many of us volunteering for more, not because we like war, but because we believe in our country and in helping others come to know freedom. I know that amid the political cynicism that is so rampant that such idealism is derided by those who only see America as a force for evil, but such is not the case. By and large our Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen and Coastguardsmen serve not for college money or to simply have a job, but because we care about the country and know that by serving now that we will likely end up in a combat zone.
We serve in unpopular wars and our sacrifice is to many people just a news bite in between economic, entertainment and sports stories. There are those on the left who despise us as much as they did those who served in Vietnam. Likewise there are those on the right who have no compunction about using us in the military until we are spent without sharing a whit in our sacrifice, without ever having put on a uniform much less seeing combat.
This Veterans Day, my way of honoring those who are serving (or have served) is to be neither on the left nor the right.
A few pics and a video from last night at Artwalk. Grant and Sarah came down to hang out for a little while. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.
The state of our higher education system annoys me. It annoys me because often the people who would most benefit from college are the ones that are NOT in college. The converse of this is also true: the ones who ARE in college or university are often the ones least likely to benefit from it.
Example 1: A hardworking middle-class (maybe middle-aged) worker with a life-long passion for learning is unable to go to school because she is supporting a family and can't afford the ridiculously high tuitions that most of our universities now charge. She would LOVE the opportunity to further her education but she doesn't have the resources. Common sense dictates that she not abandon her responsibilities to her family in order to further her education. However, because of her insatiable desire to learn, she will end up either a) educating herself on her own time, or b) go deeply into debt because she sees no other option. However intelligent she may be (and often she is), she is forced to make the choice of either taking on extravagant amounts of student debt, or being shut out of jobs where a degree is required.
Example 2: A young, free spirit with no idea (yet) what he wants to do with his life, is more or less forced into going to college by his well-meaning, well-to-do parents who believe that their son "will never amount to anything" unless he has a college education. He doesn't really have an interest in learning, but doesn't feel like he has any other options. The result is that he often doesn't do well in his classes and spends his time in college on "non-academic endeavors". For him, college is just a way to delay the responsibilities of adulthood while living on his parents' dime. He's been subtly indoctrinated with this ideology his whole life by his unwitting parents and by our culture.
Huh? What's that? What's the answer to this conundrum?
I dunno...I'm still working on that part...
The random thoughts of a passionate moderate who is incurably addicted to music, practical philosophy, and learning new things.