“Daddy, I don’t want to watch the news,” my four year old laments to H.
“Well sorry buddy, Daddy has to watch the news right now so you are going to have to be patient,” H responds with understanding.
“Can’t I watch something on the computer?” he whines.
“Can I play on your iPad?”
After a few minutes of watching the news, Little P looks over to H and asks, “Daddy are those soldiers or bad guys?”
“Those are good guys, they aren’t soldiers but they are police that respond to very bad situations.”
“Oh, well what are they doing?” Little P questions further.
“Well something bad happened in Paris, and they are looking for the bad guys,” H sighs.
Little P was watching the news with H and taking in the lights and the officers in full combat gear with attentive curiosity. They chatted back and forth about what happened and why, and how the good guys have to do everything they can to get the bad guys.
This is the world we are raising our boys in.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the most recent school shooting in the states about complacency and how its destroying our independence.
I think it’s important to understand that this sort of complacency is happening all over the world, and its certainly leading us into a third world war.
When will everyone wake up to this reality?
An Aimlessly Wandering Free World
It is time to stop giving our time to the Kardashians and The Daily Show and maybe check the feeds at Al Jazeera or the BBC. It is time to stop playing video games and start paying attention.
While college students whine about safe spaces and doing actual WORK, people are fleeing for their lives from a group the likes of which the world has not seen since the 1920s and 30s. They are seeking refuge in Europe and the US, only to find closed borders or endure even more bombings and shootings.
While many in the safer parts of the world complain about the foam on their latte or GMO foods.
It’s time to wake up and take ownership of the world’s future, before there isn’t one. [tweet this]
As parents, H and I make it a priority to discuss these things when they come up and have a plan for how to present them to the boys. We believe that information is power, and that if a 5 year old Syrian refugee is strong enough to make it across the mediterranean and walk through forests and mountains with his family to reach safety, then our sons can be taught about the world and informed of the horrific chaos in which the majority of the world lives in.
So no, we do not let them play on the iPad or watch youtube cartoons while we watch the news. They can go play, or they can sit and watch.
Little P almost always sits and watches. He has a very keen sense of right and wrong, good and evil, and a deep desire to see justice done. In that way he is his father’s child.
Are we wrong in handling it this way? I don’t think so. Many will disagree and think we are scarring them and that they are too young and fragile to be witnessing such things via the news outlets.
Let’s remember how the world stopped and listened to radios during Pearl Harbor, or how time stood still and everyone, regardless of age, clung to the television and shed tears together when Kennedy was assassinated. Long ago things that happened in the world were known to Americans because they felt pride and duty for being the leaders of the free world.
How have we lost our way? On 9/11 many schools did not gather the kids around to witness the tragedy because some PR person somewhere was concerned about parent complaints. They left it to the parents to decide and sadly many of them said nothing or very little for fear of scaring their children. We no longer have national pride or a sense of duty to the world.
I bet over half the population still doesn’t know about the isolated shooting that took place here in Amman recently, resulting in the deaths of a South African, two Jordanian officers and two American contractors that were serving their countries.
We already know via today’s Facebook trends that half the world didn’t know about the recent bombings in Beirut either until after the Paris attack. All of those people sharing images depicting “#Paris, #Iraq, #Lebanon, #Syria” didn’t know about it either, which is why they feel the need to fill up their walls with it today.
By the way- not one of these memes mentions Jordan, who lost their esteemed pilot earlier this year to the brutal torture of IS and had a fatal shooting last week. Neither did they hashtag the 147 deaths in the University attack by Al Shabaab in Nairobi, Kenya, or the Oct. 3 Boko Haram bombings in Abuja. Abuja is the capital of Nigeria, for anyone in need of a geography lesson.
It’s okay Africa, you just sit over there and waste away to war and starvation while the rest of the world ignores you, because they don’t happen to need any of your resources right now.
And what about the renewed violence in Jerusalem? Oh wait, we aren't allowed to talk about that because its too inflammatory. It's not trendy to care about Jerusalem or Israel or Palestine right now, because that conflict is too
politically influential complicated for people to wrap their heads around
It’s not the media’s fault that the masses don’t keep themselves informed.
In fact, since the advent of 24 hour news, one would think it would be impossible for anyone to be uninformed. Sharing digital memes on social media does nothing.
Stop Hashtagging and Start Living Mindfully [tweet this]
It is time to DO something about what’s happening in this world. If you don’t know what to do, then you can start by living a more mindful existence. By being more mindful you will begin to care more about the world outside of your immediate sphere or twitter feed.
For starters, you can take the blinders off and stop hiding behind politics, apathy and pacifism.
The politicians will do what they always do and use the fear of terror to manipulate their voters. The republicans will shout about how we will engage and hunt down and kill the enemy, but will offer no plan for the clean up afterward. The democrats will talk about how we will use diplomacy to fight terror, but we won’t take the military option off the table. (That should be really telling right there: NO ONE can take the military option off the table when the enemy’s goal is to eradicate the world of heathens.)
The hear no evil see no evil crowd will turn a blind eye and say, “Well its not in my back yard, so not my problem.” The majority will take this route: they will feel sorry and say a prayer and then go back to their golf game or barbecue because they don’t know what else to do. It’s not shocking really, when that is what the leader of the free world’s reaction is. This group needs to become more engaged in the conversation- write a congressman or donate to a cause or be ready to use your vote for the benefit of the world at large rather than your paycheck (Read: stop voting along party lines and vote for whomever stands for what you believe in AFTER you have taken the time to educate yourself in a productive way.)
The pacifist/socialist/entitlement millennials will sit on their pedestals and pontificate about how if we just stopped invading other countries and oppressing them with democracy then there would be World Peace. They will write long essays on Medium filled with words from the thesaurus to make themselves look smarter. They will rail on the horrors of the western world and how we are the root of all evil. Notice that during these rants they will forget about things like women's rights within the context of radical Islam, or education or child slavery and the rampant pedophilia of boys within the Taliban.
I challenge that set to go join the red cross or peace corps or something, because you have obviously never witnessed true strife in the world. You have not watched children beg on the side of the street to later learn that those children are all “handled” by a mafia style gang. You have not worked alongside a displaced Syrian, who fled his country alone at the age of sixteen, and now, five years later, sends every penny he earns back home to his father and twelve sisters and brothers.
You also seem to forget that the only reason you get to sit on your soap box is because those in service to your country sacrificed their lives for your freedom, and continue to do so Every. Single. Day.
It’s okay though, some day you will be thirty, and hopefully realize the world is infinitely more complicated than a Miss American pageant slogan. One can only hope.
How Informing Our Children Helps the Future
For the rest of us who actually care, but might not know what to do, we can begin by educating and informing ourselves and our children, and being honest with them about the world.
Let me ask you something: Does your child watch Star Wars or Harry Potter or the Incredibles? Or Tinker Bell or Cinderella or How to Train a Dragon? Do they play good guys and bad guys? Or have the knight rescue their princess?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then your child can watch the news, and begin learning about the differences between fantasy and reality.
Do they play princess and dress up in super hero costumes? Do they draw castles and twirl circles like a ballerina? Do they go with you to the grocery store and pharmacy?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then your child is perfectly capable of learning about the realities of the world we live in.
Childhood is precious, and creative play and imagination are so very important. But have you ever stopped to think about how the value of those things is lost if you try to portray them as reality?
Creative thinking and fiction and imagination lose their wonder if that is all your child sees and knows. They need to learn early on the difference between what the movies show and what real life is like. If you are mindful about your conversations with them, you can do this in a way that does not harm their innocence or steal their childhood.
In fact, if you teach them the realities of the world while encouraging their creative thinking and imagination, you are also teaching them how to think independently.
So I encourage and challenge you to actively live a more mindful existence, and to encourage your children to do the same. It is for their future that we need to arm them with knowledge, information, and the ability to think for themselves.
This is how we will raise a new generation of young people that are less entitled and more worldly, less selfish and more serving, less sheep and more shepherd. This is how we will save the world from terrorism of any kind.