Let us not be pretensive about or opaque with the truth. Time was, when we the over-50s roamed childhood, there were numberless acts of minor and major disobedience to our elders; dishonour to our peers, even disloyalty and betrayal; selfishness; failure to keep promises; spite and envy; ingratitude towards those who cherished us; yes, infantile sexual exploits, and sexploitation to boot.
The thing is all these vices were frowned upon by parents and extended family; by teachers, the entire school and the ministry; by neighbours and the society at large; and by the church and all of Christendom –– publicly and loudly, and in unison. Today, in the era of universal rights to be whatever you wish to be and however, varying and conflicting opinions abound on the merits and demerits of these iniquities –– or foibles, as the new liberalists would rather say.
And the imperfections of such reasoning thereof have given manifestation to a latitude where children have become the victims of a devil-may-care circumstance fashioned by parents so consumed by their own materialistic advancement, that they drag their offspring offhandedly along with their baggage, which trails them on their tour of accumulation.
The fallout is that the children of these nouveau riche are pushed harder than ever to perform on their own, with the nonchalent parental expectancy that they will one day make the grade as adults. The proffered wisdom is that scheduling childhood’s basic tasks and pleasures –– through parental personal attention and sound guidance –– is an inhibitor. The argument is that rather than attempting to control a young child, a parent should be making an unobtrusive presence and offering a patience (that would be best bolstered by long absences), thus giving the child that feeling of security and a right to freedom to explore the world on its own.
Imagine children finding their own way to natural development through experiences with music (wholesome and depraved), art (classic and pornographic), language (literary and obscene), nature (gentle and villainous), sex (unprepared and at the risk with perverts and paedophiles)! This is the irresponsibilty and madness presented by some “child experts” –– available on the Internet via iPad and iPhone, the modern child’s links to the world of information –– and misinformation.
This growing misdirection in a society hell-bent on ultra-liberalism, now quite fashionable in the so-called First World, many of whose questionable ways we follow blindly, is placing unwarranted pressure on our vulnerable young. This thrust on our children to grow up much on their own these days takes two essential forms: the commercial pressure to consume this vast range of goods and services available to children and young people of all ages –– whose good is all underscored by the sex image; and the consequent impulsion to take part in a committed sexualized life long before they are fit and ready to do so.
That is why we editors, writers and radio and TV broadcasters, and businesspersons and advertisers must collectively play our part in protecting the children of our nation from this increasingly sexualized wallpaper and tapestry that surround them.
Our children are being pressured to grow up too quickly.
We have schoolchildren on TV singing adult songs about broken hearts and cheating. We have their ears banged by irresponsible deejays with smut and sex- rated songs at school fairs. Parents have their children exposed to the Caribbean music videos with their almost clothes-less gyrating and sex-simulating stars and crews. The rugged and sultry adult stage performance is even brought into the schools, with the complicity of alumni and principal.
Then we baulk at sex in the classroom, and the videotaping of it!
We need to get back to basics: values, standards of conduct, self-respect and being fully clothed in public. We need to summon the will and wherewithal to adopt these simple principles once more in the pursuit of our children’s protection from the depravity of witless and wutless adults? To be brutally blunt, Barbadians have come to love much worthlessness and to revel in depravity –– feeling no remorse about it and being oblivious to the negative ramifications it has for their offspring.
As veteran journalist Ridley Greene once wrote of our degenerating norms, “dancing, rhythmic and sensual, has given way to the unartistic, obscene, crude, coarse, diabolically unimaginative public simulation of penetrative intercourse between male bovine and contented cow; ram and slovenly sheep; pit bull and loose bitch –– images exposed to the children of the nation, and in which they would even be innocent participants”.
With such persistent images enclosing our young what can we practically expect of their behaviour? Until we accept that the source of our children’s iniquities are us and that we need to change the way we generally live our own lives as adults and parents, and do business, we will have a nation of decadence in the making. The future is as much a grave responsibility for us as it will be for our progeny.
What indeed will be our legacy?