Friday, August 22, 2014

Viral Morality vs. Changing our Children

Everything is external in our current culture. Everyone recognizes that, right?

If we want to combat racism, we set up think-tanks and we draft new policies. We demand investigations. We band together and have riots.

If we want to fight against drug use, we pass laws. We arrest people.

If we want kids to do better in school, we force them to meet homogenized standards on cookie-cutter tests.

Even the ALS challenge, thing...

Let me say this: it is working. People know, now, about the disease who never before did. The money raised has been astronomical, compared to years before. Practically, it is a wonderful thing. (For now; until the novelty dies off.)

It is interesting to me that things like this ice-bucket challenge are labeled "viral" because that is really what has happened. People have caught this "virus" that prompts them to donate -- or, at least, to pour water over their heads.

I don't question the results of the challenge; they're good. (Again, for now.) What I question is the fact that we need to catch an electronic virus in order to be aware of a heartbreakingly horrible disease.

Sadly, none of this will matter, in the long run, because pharmaceutical companies are not interested in developing drugs for ALS. The drugs have not advanced in years. Why? Not enough money in it. Not enough people have the disease to make the drugs profitable. Is this enough proof that we need to start working on our children from the inside instead of gathering in groups and drafting policy and "having discussions" and passing laws?

Maybe this is where the slow death of religion is affecting us. I know it it popular to blame religion for lots of things. Usually, it is religious fanaticism and not religion that causes the problems. Religion teaches morality; it teaches a system of behavior and a principle of consequences. (I know -- you and I may not always agree with those systems or consequences, but the sense of their mere presence is important.)

If we want to change things, we need simply to teach our children. Lame, right?

I know this is not a new idea, but it is, in some ways, a forgotten idea. Someday, a CEO of a pharmaceutical company is going to feel, deeply, in his heart, that something needs to be done for ALS sufferers. And she will feel this neither because people have poured water over their heads nor because she is forced to allot a certain percentage of her research funds to ALS, but because her mother taught her to help those who need it.

For God's sake, we need to teach compassion and personal responsibility. Along with forming committees to help people get off of drugs, lets, as parents, teach our kids about consequence: if you do A, B will happen. Experts constantly say that people do drugs and drink and drink and drive and text and drive, particularly in the younger years, because they feel invulnerable. They do these things because they don't truly believe anything bad will come out of it. Planting a little constructive fear into their lives can be as simple as teaching a healthy respect for consequence by following up on our if/thens as parents. (Remember -- we try to keep it out of our lives, but fear is a survival instinct. Fear, in it's proper allottment is a beneficial emotion. Maybe what I am saying is that, contrary to Mr. Roosevelt's, I think we must not fear fear itself. It can keep us healthy and even alive.)

Instead of only trying to work on already existing problems and accepting bad and immoral and heartless behavior as "normal" we need to work from the family, outward. We need to produce better kids; kids who don't bully; kids who don't hurt others; kids who don't think winning is everything; kids who would rather pet a dog than pull its tail; kids who recognize racial and cultural differences but who live in harmony with each other; kids who do unto others as they would have done until themselves.

Instead of building better tracks, we're chasing runaway mine cars. We're not properly educating our kids and then we are blaming their grown up versions for bad behavior and trying to "regulate" them.

We've lost our center.

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