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Oh Canada – A Lost Generation

I think at one time or another, virtually every politician in the free world has said, “We need to leave a better planet for our children.” Usually, this is the justification being put forward for more sacrifice on our part; environmental, economic, democratic or any combination of a bunch of things.

I believe we should try and leave a better world for our children and our grandchildren but just once, I’d like to hear a politician, an educator, an activist or any one of countless other experts stand up and say, “Hey, you know what? We need to leave better kids for the planet.”

I believe that we have lost our minds when it comes to parenting and educating our children and it has resulted in a lost generation of people whose values and purpose are confused at best and non-existent at least.

I remember when my daughter was very young, she questioned me about why she had to go to bed at a different time than her mother and I. She reminded me that I had taught her that we were all equal and if that were true, she had reasoned, then she shouldn’t have a different bedtime than her mother and I.

I was quite impressed with her ability to work that reasoning out at just five years old and a little concerned. It seemed to be a foreshadowing of what might be coming by the time she hit her teens. It’s not easy being a parent at the best of times; it’s downright challenging when your five year old is smarter than you are.

I attempted to explain the difference between being of equal value and having unequal rules. I used an analogy of lions on the Serengeti, which I thought was quite clever at the time. I told her that it was the responsibility of the adult lions to teach baby lions how to survive and live successfully. While they were still learning, they had to accept that their parents got to do things that they couldn’t because they didn’t have the experience to do it well or safely.

A few years later, when she asked me yet another of her somewhat pointed questions and I started to go into another long-winded parable, she looked at me with disgust and said, “This isn’t going to be another one of those lion stories, is it Dad?” So  much for being quite clever.

I may not have explained it well at the time but the analogy actually works. Throughout the animal kingdom, animals learn from their parents. There are exceptions, of course; fish and reptiles aren’t reared by adults of their species. They’re simply hatched and away they go which explains their high infant mortality rate.

But most birds and virtually all mammals spend some time educating their young on how to provide for themselves and to survive in a hostile and dangerous world. Humanity has evolved this education to a very sophisticated and complex level but for all of that, we aren’t doing a very good job of preparing our kids to be successful in their lives.

In fact, increasingly, we suck at it.

Like most generalizations, that’s not true of everyone but it is true enough of society overall to simply be a fact. We are the generation that forgot that our children were more important than our lifestyle.

Look around. We are surrounded by young people who are trying to navigate life without having been taught the necessary fundamental values like self-respect, basic manners, a work ethic, integrity and self-reliance. So far removed are many of them from what we consider to be our society’s core values, some of them almost seem like aliens from another planet.

For all of the talk about freedom of assembly and free speech, our university campuses are hotbeds of intolerance and narrow-minded bigotry towards anyone who doesn’t think the ‘right’ way. Opposed to abortion? Don’t even consider trying to organize a pro-life group on some campuses. Want to hear people like Ann Coulter or Benjamin Netanyahu speak? Forget it. The free-thinkers on campus will not permit it. Want to support Israel? Not on this campus you don’t.

They have come to university with the belief that they have the right to decide to whom our Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies and have turned their campuses into a hman version of Orwell’s Animal Farm where all are equal but some are more equal than others.

It’s never our own kids, of course; it’s always the kids of someone else but there seems to be an awful lot of young people around these days who believe they are entitled to decide to whom our Charter of Rights and Freedoms does or doesn’t apply.

They are members of a generation that we forgot to teach both the value and the responsibility of earning your own way.

Paying for post-secondary education isn’t easy, even in Canada where tuition is heavily subsidized by the taxpayer; but then it has always been challenging. We all live through it but young people today demand – not ask, mind you – demand more financial support because they have a right to a college or university education even if it is at the expense of others. They protest increases in tuition without any knowledge or understanding of the true cost of education or the realities of the economic world in which we all live.

They demand others pay more because they need their money for smart phones and gadgets.

Too many grew up with an expectation of having things handed to them to the point where now they lack the ability to understand the difference between what is needed and what is wanted. They stand on the threshold of adulthood without any real sense of priority and have replaced self-reliance with an attitude of entitlement that moves back and forth between victimization and simply flat-out selfishness.

They are a generation that believes that pirating DVDs and movies online isn’t stealing, plagiarizing isn’t cheating and hacking into the computer systems of others isn’t breaking and entering. They are a generation that feels entitled to whatever they want whenever they want it because our generation fostered and catered to that belief.

Parents, educators and politicians placed very little emphasis on teaching them values both by design and increasingly by example. They have learned too well from all of us.

We replaced productive time with our kids with things because it was easier and helped to assuage the guilt we might feel for being to busy to spend time with them. We bowed to their peer pressure to make sure they had the right brands when it came to clothes and tech toys because that also reflected back on us and we relaxed the rules so that they didn’t have to earn their way to a privilege.

Our generation was too busy building and maintaining a lifestyle to realize that we were giving them everything but us and what they really needed to be successful and prosperous.

We changed how and what we teach our children Instead of teaching values, enforcing discipline for breaking the rules or for bad behaviour; we decided it was better to focus on not damaging a child’s self-esteem. The result has been a generation with little to no self-respect or respect for others.

We eliminated consequences for failing to hand in assignments on time or at all. We took away the consequences for failing an exam. In fact, we changed how we measured a student’s progress so as not to put too much pressure on them in order to make them strive to be successful. So intent were we on ensuring that no child was left behind we held them all back rather than encourage them to move forward.

We attacked competitive sports by trying to remove any concept of winning and losing whenever we could. We stopped keeping score in many leagues and one soccer league in Ontario has so far as to try and that who scores the goals on a team accurately reflects the team’s ethnic diversity.  It’s a concept of participation equity evolved to insanity.

We took away their right to fail and to learn how to overcome adversity – the very kind of adversity they will encounter throughout their lives. We denied them of the motivation that comes from having accomplished and we lowered standards and expectations rather than teach them how to strive to be the best they can be.

We have tried to shield them from life’s reality but in the end have only succeeded in creating a generation that is ill-prepared for the real world. In our rush to be all-inclusive, we have denied them access to their own traditions and heritage if it doesn’t meet some arbitrary politically correct trend. We protect them from the true meaning of Christmas and even the word while exposing them to the materialistic consumerism of that time of year.

We ban books like Lord of the Flies despite the morality lessons it taught because it had the dreaded ‘N’ word in it. We ignored the context of the language and the lesson it taught in favour being politically correct.

We taught our children how to be shallow rather than thoughtful, how to demand rather than earn and what to think rather than how to think.

A parent in Ontario filed a human rights complaint because students at a particular elementary school were being forced – forced, mind you – to sing the nation anthem in the morning before class started, a cappella. He called it unconstitutional for students not to have musical accompaniment when they sang. Another parent wanted all oak trees near a school cut down because there might be students in the school with a nut allergy.

We focus on all the wrong things.

We protect them from every day words but leave them exposed to relentless danger online. We spend less time with them than they spend on the Internet, the same Internet where they are exposed to bullying, pedophiles and pushers; the same Internet we violently oppose the implementation of any consideration of regulation.

We enroll them in sports, dance classes, crafts, guides, scouts and all manner of activities but we ourselves spend no time actually teaching them our values, the same values they will need to be better citizens when they become adults.

We pamper them and give them things instead of parameters within which they must live as they are growing up and treat them like they’re adults before they’ve left puberty.

We want to be our children’s’ friends rather than their parents.

The result is all around us in a self-absorbed, self-righteous, arrogant, bigoted and narrow-minded lost generation that places a higher value on things than on people. So bereft of real values are many young people today that they see nothing wrong with selling themselves online on web sites like seekingarrangement.com where they can get cash for companionship.

It’s a meet market that is more meat than meet. They sell themselves as cheaply as if they were nothing more than sides of beef. So much for an educational system focused on their self-esteem.

And that’s the real tragedy in all of this.

It isn’t simply the arrogant behaviour; it’s the lack of self-respect that is so troubling. Teen suicides are at an all time high and bullying is rampant. Information has replaced knowledge and values have been replaced by expediency. Expectations are unrealistic and the discouragement that comes from crashing into reality when those expectations aren’t met is crushing for many.

It breeds anger, resentment and an unrealistic sense of entitlement.

They’re a lost generation for the most part and it’s our fault, not theirs. We were afraid they wouldn’t love us if we lived up to our responsibility to teach them values and the hard lessons and that they would resent us for enforcing rules with discipline.

Our generation; parents, educators and politicians pandered to them and protected them from the wrong things because we were so intent on leaving a better world for our kids – we forgot that our real responsibility was to leave better kids for our world.

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© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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  • Jay

    Quick thing: Huxley wrote Brave New World. Orwell wrote Animal Farm. Both great authors and great books, very relevant to today’s problems. Good post!

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      You’re right, of course, it was Monday and my brain was on idle. Thanks for the correction.

  • Sebastian Anders

    You are right that WE as a society have failed our children. But yet, I too take exception to the collective WE because of a very serious underlying factor not mentioned and one that has been troubling me for decades. Somewhere along the way WE definitely failed as a society by allowing certain forces to creep into the current of societal responsibilities as parents, educators and legislators. Over the years I felt anger and frustration every time a new dictate became law, that it somehow got through the various levels of government which, bit by bit, took away our powers of discipline and our responsibilities as parents and educators under threats of harsh penalties if we dared raise our voices or denied our children whatever, under the guise of “child abuse” and other qualifiers.

    Without meaning to go off the track here, it is somewhat like the bicycle helmet requirement. Just because someone (relatively very small percentage of bicycle riders) is careless, falls and hurts himself, we then all have to wear ridiculous plastic balloons on our heads, which, in fact, offer next to no protection. Same goes for skying helmets and other stupid regulations.

    Some disgruntled do-gooder, socialist mental defect, vowed as a child that when he/she grew up, would get a job that would give him/her the power to change things so that parents would never again be able to tell a child what to do, how to do it or when to do it, because he/she was angry at her parents for having done so. And neither would teachers. Then, to top it off, children would be able to go the the welfare office and make outrageous claims against their parents and would be given money and a place to live away from their cruel parents who would not let them stay up all night watching TV or playing computer games, or even worse, who would tell them to study and do their homework, instead of going out with their friends to hang around the local mall or do drugs in a back alley.

    This and more did not happen overnight. It crept into our daily lives over a number of years and completely changed the fabric of society. The kind of noise that came out of the radios and cd’s wrongly described as art of the musical type that spewed hate and anger at society and got the younger generations to gyrate and scream “more, more, more,”, then telling their elders to go to hell. How did we allow these forces to take over? Where were we and why did we not stop it? There was a clue in the common phrases invoked repeatedly by our leftist human aberrations: “It is for the collective good.” “You will thank us for it later.” “We know what is best for you because we are the collective you/WE. And if you don’t do as we tell you, we will punish you.”

    Hate is powerful emotion that no one should invoke. But when it comes to the new socialism, because of the harm they have wreaked on society, what I feel comes pretty close to hatred, especially with the empirical evidence we have of the great failures and human tragedies that socialism has brought. And, tragically, we have these mental defects in our own society who absolutely refuse to see modern history for what it is because they are completely blinded by their warped ideology.

    That, to me, ladies and gentlemen, is the root of what has completely screwed up our society, and WE have allowed it to be. I personally felt helpless in that evolutionary process and I tried to put in my two cents in an effort to put a stop to these sickening trends that I saw happening, by becoming involved in politics, but my little effort did not go far. Hence my reason for barking at the moon here and wherever else I can to denounce these dangerous mental defects, known as socialists.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      You seem to overlook that it was “we” who elected the legislators and who supported their creeping regulations. We are a society and we did this collectively. We could have stopped it anytime but we chose not too. We continue to repeat the mistakes of our recent history because we learn nothing from them and our children are paying a heavy price for it.

      • old white guy

        i don’t think you can stop something when you are out numbered. i railed against many of the stupid things government has done, to no avail. i have written mps and prime ministers with no result. those who have pushed the nanny state on free people have been able to do so because the average canadian lacks the ability to think critically. the precautionary principal rules the day without any concern as to what consequences may come about.

  • Pingback: A Bear’s Rant | Grumpy Opinions

  • http://grumpyelder.com/ Grumpy

    Very Nice Bear

  • Nicola Timmerman

    I don’t like collective guilt. Speak for yourself!

    It is certainly an uphill march to raise kids today as the culture and schools are not helping us at all, with the exception of a few teachers who will soon be retiring.

    Also the tax system favours those who don’t stay home in the early years to look after their children. Plus the heavy taxes mean most families need two incomes with the long hours jobs usually demand these days.

    I find one of the interesting statistics is the decline in the number of young people who learn how to drive as soon as they can and the decline in young people getting summer jobs.

    You also didn’t mention the decline in the number of people having children at all!

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I think your comment pretty much proves my point. You blame educators, which I do and you blame government which I also do. It is, in other words, a collective failure so whether you like collective guilt or not, we are all responsible for the mess we have made in preparing this generation for living in the real world.

      And it is a mess.

      We have university students who have no clue where the Atlantic Ocean is located even though their university is less than two miles from its shore. We have collectively all but eliminated responsibility for crime with the Young Offenders Act and we have replaced understanding simply with information. Some parents are good parents and you may be one of them but there is no question that our society is failing our kids by not teaching them values, consequences for the actions, responsibility and self-reliance. They are growing up believing that life owes them and the simple truth is that life owes nobody.

      The number of young people learning to drive has nothing to do with how we teach our children and neither does the number of children being born. It is what we collectively, as a society, are doing or not doing to prepare them for life is what is important and we are not meeting that responsibility.

  • Alberta Girl

    Touche! Touche! Touche!

    If you ever want the perfect poster boy to go with your post…Arun Smith’s photo should be at the top of you post