October 27, 2016
Specifically, resistance entails conceiving of parenting as an act of rebellion against American culture. For example, for parents merely to remain married is itself an act of disobedience and an insult to the spirit of a throwaway culture in which continuity has little value. It is also at least ninety percent un-American to remain in close proximity to one’s extended family so that children can experience, daily, the meaning of kinship and the value of deference and responsibility to elders. Similarly, to insist that one’s children learn the discipline of delayed gratification, or modesty in sexuality, or self-restraint in manners, language, and style is to place oneself in opposition to almost every social trend. Even further, to ensure that one’s children work hard at becoming literate is extraordinarily time-consuming and even expensive. But most rebellious of all is the attempt to control the media’s access to one’s children. There are, in fact, two ways to do this. The first is to limit the amount of exposure children have to media. The second is to monitor carefully what they are exposed to, and to provide them with a continuously running critique of the themes and values of the media’s content. Both are very difficult to do and require a level of attention that most parents are not prepared to give to child-rearing.
Nonetheless, there are parents who are committed to doing all of these things, who are in effect defying the directives of their culture. Such parents are not only helping their children to have a childhood but are, at the same time, creating a sort of intellectual elite. Certainly in the short run the children who grow up in such homes will, as adults, be much favored by business, the professions, and the media themselves. What can we say of the long run? Only this: Those parents who resist the spirit of the age will contribute to what might be called the Monastery Effect, for they will help to keep alive a humane tradition. It is not conceivable that our culture will forget that it needs children. But it is halfway toward forgetting that children need childhood. Those who insist on remembering shall perform a noble service.
– From The Disappearance of Childhood (Neil Postman, 1994)
June 1, 2016
October 5, 2015
The tragic and horrific murders in Oregon have primarily brought out two reactions. The first is to be lauded – an emotional outpouring of grief and support from around the country. The second is to be expected and scorned – an attempt to turn the tragedy into a political lesson, either supporting drastic gun control or supporting open carry laws.
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May 1, 2015
While reading various accounts of the Baltimore riots, I was struck by the pictures of the violence, specifically, the faces of the rioters. They are mostly young men and boys, African American, roughly the same age. They should be in school or at work, but they are not. They are rioting and looting.
These are the same faces you can see in pictures of the riots in Ferguson or New York City or Chicago or any number of urban settings where “race violence” breaks out. You can see these same faces in old photographs of the 1968 Baltimore riots.
This week’s reading are all about honesty (or the lack thereof). The Prescience of Daniel Patrick Moynihan questions whether we can be honest with ourselves in dealing with society’s on-going problems. The Real Price of Lies questions the actions of an administration that consistently lies. and CBS gives us a visual history of recent Infamous Political Lies.