all the cable news coverage and comedic sendups of the Michael Jackson charges
and trial, along with the seemingly weekly reports of public school teachers being
charged with improper conduct with students, this thread has been needling its
way through my thoughts again recently. I think one of the negative hallmarks
of today's adult generation is their widespread indifference to the standard Jesus
preached in the passage excerpted above. Many members of today's establishment
generation have made it crystal clear that they could care less about how their
actions affect children; their own lives are what count. From sports "stars"
who whine that they aren't being paid to be "role models" to clergy
who lead astray their youth, to pregnant women who can't live with the convenience
of a(nother?) baby, to entertainment producers who think it's cool to "break
the facts of life" through children's cartoons, we've seen a sea change in
how the older generation treats the younger ones from our childhood to that of
Of course in our time there were many exceptions,
too, like the uncle-by-marriage of mine whoI was horrified to be told in
my teensstood his sons up on the dining table and taught them to talk dirty
from age two. We all knew adults who taught such behavior at least by example
if not directly instilling the vocabulary. Many fathers encouraged their sons
to experiment with sex and other older adults were willing to buy teenagers booze.
There were those who were seducers or willing partners with "children"
who played the seducer role, then, too. But on the whole, these unsavory types
were considered just that at the time, undesirables who were pigeonholed somewhere
between bad influences and perverts.
There were scandals
that were known about only through whispers, but occasionally they were "confirmed"
by the unravelling of a promising career when someone quickly left town. If there
were pedophiles (and of course there were some), they were more likely to get
away with their behavior because there were so many "unmentionable"
subjects at the time. And in some jurisdictions there were no laws against some
behaviors now considered major crimes and widely committed, because no one in
authority then could imagine such acts being perpetrated.
most of the adults in our lives were aware of the need to protect us and not become
stumbling blocks that might win them a millstone in turn. No school teacher was
"living in sin" then. Most police officers were more likely to warn
or even arrest anyone heard cursing in public (as one of our Saturday Pages "history
tidbits" recounted last year) than be heard cursing himself. It wasn't just
good business to be polite and congenial to the customers and fuss over babies,
it was part of the philosophy of life back then; it was more than courtesy, it
was protection of the young and of the social fabric we depended on.
was a lot of hypocrisy, as suggested by that "whispering." And in the
end, when this cocoon of protection of the young began unravelling, it was the
charge of "hypocrisy," most often, that won the assent if not the participation
of the people of my generation who thought more "honesty" and "letting
it all hang out" might be "healthy." On the whole, it hasn't been
very healthy and on the whole I miss the kinder, gentler days when children were
shielded from the muck rather than encouraged to play in it.
complete index of Jon Kennedy's Jonals for 2001 - 2005