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 random thoughts of a passionate moderate who is incurably addicted to music, practical philosophy, and learning new things.