What do we tell our kids?
Growing up the images that I saw on television seemed as though they were occurring in a strange land, not in America. American policemen and National Guardsmen wielded heavy clubs that crashed down on the heads of African Americans and the whites that supported them. As America struggled to decide if the protesters were justified in taking he actions that they took or if they communists or just lawbreakers. as proof that blacks were violent, drug crazed maniacs or worse. Men like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King had their telephones illegally wire tapped by the FBI and the local police force Many Americans didn’t know what to think about African Americans that fought against police brutality and blatant discrimination. The protesters were breaking the law and that was what the media focused on initially. Only after many had died, been imprisoned or had their lives ruined did the focus shift to the essential wrongness of discriminatory practices. As children of that era we were not given the perspective that government supported discrimination was wrong. We did not know this until much later on. While discrimination still occurs, the government no longer endorses those actions. Just imagine, the United States Supreme Court upheld slavery at one time, that fact still seems frightening even today.
Today, Americans are confronting a new downward mobility that on the surface feels very un-American. Record home foreclosures, high unemployment, over 50 million Americans with no health insurance and having the highest rate of children living in poverty among the world’s industrialized democracies offers an ominous forecast if major changes do not occur. Do children need to be told that while their future hangs in the balance, Democrats and Republicans in Washington hold their respective party lines while collectively abandoning the interests of America to the lost winds of frustration politics? I believe that we need to tell our children what is happening so that they can help to create the change that will be needed to bring America back into a reasonable position. Should we tell our children that the gap between the rich and poor is larger now than when the pilgrims landed?
Should we tell them that our politicians and banking, financial community have created laws that make out of the county investments more desirable than investing in America. Many of these investments have occurred in China, Mexico and Asian rim countries? Should we tell them that none of these countries observe any environmental protection practices or civil rights protections? In fact China told American environmentalists that it wasn’t fair to expect them to observe any environmental or civil right practices because the United States did not observe any during their economic ascendancy. When I was graduating high school I knew boys who went to working factories and they made family sustaining wages right out of high school. Most of those job have been sent out of the county where circumstances are much more desperate and employees will work for much less and will tolerate abuse and exploitation. There was a time when the best stuff, cars, clothes; electronics, steel and so on were made here in America. As an antique enthusiast, I have seen the proud labeling that once adorned our washing machines, radios and other manufactured goods. It was big, bold shiny and one hundred percent American.
Maybe I am wrong, and this apparent disaster will work out just fine and it would be better if our children don’t know what is going on just as my peers and I did not know that the government endorsed the abuse, discrimination and murderer of African Americans.
Remember, all kids count.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org