I have been meaning to write more lately. Although, what to write often eludes me. Don't get me wrong, the medium of Twitter allows me to share my views in 140 characters, but let's be perfectly honest, it has been a heavy few days, and although for great thinkers 140 characters might be more than enough, for me it hardly seems acceptable. It is Monday December 17th, 2012. It has been 4 days since a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and took the lives of 26 people. This seems like the right time to say something.
I spent the better part of the weekend between my kids and the avalanche of online news regarding the Newtown shooting and the impending war of words between the American "Right" and "Left". I forged into Twitter with my own opinions and held tight to them with undaunted earnest. When hanging out with my kids I thought on the sadness of parents in Newtown, while online my lefty-socialist leanings took me into frustrated diatribes against those I deemed know-nothing-gun-totting Conservatives. My opinions heightened my anger and to a certain extent dulled my emotional response to the truth (once the media finally got around to reporting it).
As this flurry of sad news descends, we are all - rightfully - concerned about our children. But, I think we too often get caught up in the media onslaught of fear and forget to talk and more importantly listen to our young people. We instinctively look to protect our children (as we should), but forget that they might have a view on this that seems "wise beyond their years". We need to read our young people, and if they are mature enough, listen to their thoughts and feelings.
In their often simplistic answers there is root problem, and more often a solution we cannot see for the cut-off nose that dangles so often from our face. My 8 year old daughter asked about the Newtown shooting on Friday. After an honest, although albeit a simplified version of events, she asked "why did he do it?". I of course didn't know the answer. But, I presumed that it was the same reason that most people go to peaceful places with the means and ways to horrifically destroy and kill, sickness. So, I told my daughter that "he was sick". My daughter's response hit at the crux of the problem: "why didn't a doctor help him?". Yes, this is a simple answer. She doesn't know a thing about the ideological arguments regarding private coverage, insurers, or public health care. And of course my 8 year old daughter doesn't know the financial issues that go with health care and mental illness. But, to be perfectly honest, who cares? So often we want to politicize issues or find a means of explaining something that corresponds with our own ideologies. But, a child tends to see the issues for what they really are. They see the honesty of the issue. To them the politics and bias that weigh down adults are irrelevant. The issue is simply black or white. Therefore, we dismiss their ideas. But, perhaps sometimes somethings really should be black and white, uncorrupted and clear. A child's view is, at its purest, unadulterated. The etymology of the word adulterate is "to falsify or corrupt". Note how we connect the idea of falsifying with adulthood. To be unadulterated is to be void of this corruption, and to see things as a child does, pure with no added bias.
As I write this I cannot help but think on a poem I read in my Romantics and Victorians class at Carleton University. In it William Wordsworth wrote that "child is the father of man." And, although there is debate about the line, ultimately - as I see it - what we are as adults we gained from our childhood. So, don't we as adults have an obligation to give our young people the freedom to think without bias, without judgement and without fear? Because they, like us, will have the rest of their lives to live with those millstones.
I write about education, music, politics and my own philosophical conundrums. If I have left you thinking about something let me know. Sometimes I think this world needs more thinking.