My staunchly conservative, conventionally patriotic, right leaning friend from suburban Dallas challenged me by saying “So, what do you believe in? You don’t believe in the military industrial complex. You don’t believe in our education/indoctrination system. You say that big money has corrupted everything from our justice system, to our medical system, our political system, our economic system, and our religious institutions. Exactly who or what do you believe in?”
After quietly sitting through this tea party diatribe I had to take a breath and confess that in my view, it’s hard for anyone with both eyes open to believe in much of anything these days. My cynical side was indeed showing through.
The Power of Individual Kids
However, I said there is one thing I still do believe in and that’s the power of individual kids – given access to the right information and experiences (which is the fundamental purpose of good parenting and education) – to stand up in the face of daunting challenges, and their innate ability to choose the things they need to do in order to grow stronger, more resilient, more self reliant, despite the cards that are stacked against them every day, every week, every month, and every year of their young lives.
But Most Adults…
On the other hand, I don’t feel the same way about most adults. In most cases the indoctrinations have seeped in over time and rooted themselves deeply. The habits are solidly ingrained. They’re psychologically, socially, and economically so locked into the system that it’s almost impossible for them to see or admit to themselves the degree to which their own lives have been undermined.
And if they can see/admit it, the sheer momentum of the status quo has ground them down and reduced them to the point that they’ve given up. They’ve learned to compromise and to accept the tired, old cliché that says, “It’s always been this way. You can’t fight city hall.”
There are of course exceptions to this rule. But they’re few and far between. They’re the renegades who have refused to swallow the conventional Kool-Aid. But most adults serve as apologists for and guardians of the status quo. They resist change without questioning much of anything. Who has time for questions?
In Answer to My Friend’s Question…
So in answer to my friend’s question, I still believe in democracy/self governance, social and economic justice, mutual respect (i.e. the golden rule), and enlightened self-interest over greed. And despite the river of toxins we expect them to grow up in today, when given the right information and experiences, I also believe in the power of individual kids to stand up in the face of daunting challenges, and in their innate ability to choose those things that make them strong over those things that make them weak. I’ve seen it happen too often. All that said, I still believe in kids.