Violence is rampant in this country and yet the NRA fights to keep assault weapons legal— weapons that were designed for the sole purpose of maiming large quantities of people in a very short period of time. The cry is raised to protect our children, yet we continue to watch movies and television shows that are filled with and glorify violence, meaningless sex and greed. We still attend boxing matches in which contestants who beat each other up win millions for losing. Other sports that glorify violence (especially hockey) are still widely supported by many. We watched with fascination the trial of a man who was convicted of beating his wife, was accused (and acquitted) of her murder and call him a hero. We execute people who commit particularly violent crimes to show that violence and killing are wrong. What are we really saying to our children about violence?
Drugs are pervasive in our society despite the decades long "war on drugs". We teach our children not to use drugs, then we light up a cigarette and sit down to have a beer after dinner. We tell them drugs are nothing but trouble as the local dealer drives down the street in a new car. We tell them to just say no, to walk away and go somewhere else then take away funding that would allow neighborhoods to create safe places for them to meet and play. What are we really saying to our children about drugs?
We decry the jump in teenage pregnancies and urge our children to practice abstinence. Then we buy jeans that are advertised by half-naked women and perfume that will make us sexier and more desirable to the opposite sex. We watch soap operas and television shows that depict some sexual act virtually every minute. We read tabloids that tout the affairs of the rich and famous. We admire sports heroes who claim to have slept with thousands of women! What are we really saying to our children about sex?
We're outraged at the injustices we see in this society. Yet a young man who hears a woman screaming in the dorm room near his doesn't even bother to knock on the door to see if anything is wrong. A man who is accused of murdering two people has been able to drag out a trial for more than a year because he has the money to afford to hire attorneys who know how to manipulate the law and are arguing technicalities. People are fined more for beating their dogs than their spouses or children, yet we want the government to stop giving support to these people (mostly women) when they finally leave their abuser and try to start a new life. What are we really saying to our children about injustice?
So how can we change the conflicting messages we're sending our kids?
Stop patronizing violence that's under the guise of entertainment. Stop turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the violence in our own families for the sake of family pride. Use some common sense when it comes to guns— get rid of them all unless you hunt for food! The second amendment was meant to stop the government from taking control of the citizenry by force. How effective is even an assault weapon going to be against a nuclear or even a conventional bomb. Get tough on violent offenders, taking them out of society until they understand that they don't have the right to hurt someone else.
Remember prohibition? It didn't work then and it's not going to work now. People will always put dangerous chemicals into their bodies for fun, be it alcohol, tobacco, cocaine or some designer drug. Instead of wasting the money trying to stop what can never be stopped, legalize drugs— all drugs— and spend the money saved to educate and treat those who have fallen into the trap of drug/alcohol addiction. Let's create places where these people can use the drugs without posing a danger to others (this includes cigarettes, which poses a risk of cancer to those inhaling the second-hand smoke.) It would not only clean up our streets, it would also clear out our jails (making room for those violent offenders) and our courts of drug case backlogs (allowing other cases to come to trial more quickly).
Teach our children self-respect, that they don't need to look or act a certain way to be important. Refuse to watch movies or television shows that degrade sex or portray it in a casual, meaningless way. Don't buy products that use sex to make a sale. Perhaps most importantly, don't enter into casual sexual relationships then expect your child to refrain from doing so. Recognize that experimenting with sex is natural and provide sound reasons for abstinence (not just "the Bible says you shouldn't do it"), education on the dangers of casual sex and adequate birth control for those who choose to have sex anyway.
To fight injustice, stop trying to force others to believe what we believe, to live how we live, to think the way we think. We must start treating others the way we want them to treat us— with dignity, respect, compassion, tolerance and understanding. This should be a unilateral commitment if need be. We can't sit around and wait for the other guy to change the way he treats us first because the other guy might be doing the same thing— and we'll be waiting forever.
Sound a little radical? Maybe so. But what we have isn't working and what's been tried in the past hasn't worked. (All the hype about how good it was in the fifties— when discrimination was blatant and women had no where to go and children were supposed to suffer abuse in silence and drinking and driving were common place...Get the picture?) We're at the point in our society now that if we don't try something radical, society may not be around to judge whether or not we made the right decision.
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