Last week I wrote about the course adjustment that, in my opinion, our nation must take. Throughout the history of the United States, and even before we were an independent nation, we’ve gone through periods of turmoil, uncertainty and non-sustainable activities that required the citizens to stand up and demand change. From the very beginning at the birth of our nation with unfair taxes from England, through slavery, women’s suffrage, labor and racial inequities. What seems like relatively easy issues to resolve by today’s standards were lengthy journeys of maturation our nation underwent over time. But that evolution would not have taken place unless the nation’s citizens reached a point where enough is enough.
Abortion, health care, government finances and religious freedoms appear to be the major issues getting most of the attention these days, yet so many other issues are swirling around that also require immediate attention that affect our common senses and deaden our outrage thus allowing their continued growth. Issues like artificial drugs being sold to children right here in our backyards. The continued proliferation of sexual behavior pouring into our homes through television, the internet and mobile phones needs to be less common place. Violence, while it’s always been a part of every society from the beginning of time, also needs to be better understood both from a youth bullying stand point and the repercussions that come from their actions causing death and suicides when victims take action.
What does it say about our parental controls or commons senses when something like synthetic marijuana can show up on shelves in local stores as a legal product available for children? All one has to do is look no further than these energy boosting products that are so widely available and consumed. Acceptance of needing a little boost to kick start your morning, afternoon or evening easily transitions for children to popping a few pills and smoking “legal” marijuana to get through the school day. Kids will do what they see adults doing, but they generally take it even one step further. I’ve read there is an excellent movie produced recently titled Bully, but its been rated “R” due to the language in the movie. Teens who’ve watched the movie claim the language is what they hear in school and around the house everyday. While it’s no big deal to them it just points out how out of touch we’ve become with our moral compass. Our children replicate what they see and hear in society. What we would like to think is happening is far from reality.
Through the last few generations as we’ve relaxed our parental controls and seen a decline in moral behavior is it any wonder our children are taking things to the next level. A recently released study from the Parents Television Council found that female and male anatomical terms are used eight times more frequently now then during the 2002 television viewing season. The use of this language isn’t just on cable and it isn’t dominated by one network over another. CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC all have prime-time shows moving further in this direction. Shows use the terms sparingly, if at all, at one time for shock value. Now the terms are used for humor on comedy shows and to encourage ratings. Mainstream TV is pushing for even looser reins on language and nudity. We’ve all bought into the saying that sex sells, so to sell more you’ve got to add more sex. Without greater control or at least a toning down is it any wonder kids are hooked on sexting through their cell phones and using their computers to distribute explicit information about themselves and others.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the young teen in Sanford, Florida gunned down by a Neighborhood Watch volunteer. More details will be forth coming as to the true events that took place that fateful day, but the events that resulted in the tragic death of the 15 year old still revolve around the fear of youthful activities and something as common place and innocent as a “Hoodie” sweatshirt. Regardless of whether the events were the result of a misunderstanding, an unlawful shooting or an act of self defense they were put into motion by the current affairs of the day. Those types of events are going to become more common place as children show up in schools with guns, acting out their frustrations in public and become what they see, hear and are exposed to through our multi-media environment.
I would prefer not to editorialize or rant about such dark issues that play on readers emotions, but if we don’t start displaying some outrage and demand a return to civility I fear we will only see more of these events in our future and even closer to home. In the grand scheme of things, these events, I hope somewhere in the future, will appear as a minor speed bump during a tumultuous period of time, but if we don’t begin to react today things will get worse before they get better.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org