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Monday, June 08, 2009

Acclimated

When I was a kid, I didn't actually know any kids whose parents were divorced. I'm not saying there weren't any. It's just that no one would talk about it. I mean, if your parents split up, that was bad ... really bad.

When I was growing up we used to travel the neighborhood and beyond. Mom didn't worry that some molester would bother her kids because, well, there just weren't many out there to think about. And while some today might think she was a bit careless, apparently she was right because not once in my growing up did one single adult try to give me some candy or lure me into his car. In fact, I never heard of it happening at all.

When I was in high school, I didn't know one couple who was sexually involved. I didn't know the "tramp" (if there was one). I wasn't aware that "she is easy". No one had a reputation, either of being a ladies man or of being a ... loose woman. Oh, sure, I'd suppose it was going on, but it was really in the background because, well, it wasn't acceptable behavior.

Today, obviously, is quite different. I have to wonder about cause and effect. Is it different because we're so different, or is it different because it's so well publicized? Are there more child molesters because they've found lots of sympathetic ears on the Internet and think, "Hey, maybe it's not so bad!"? Are there more because we allow organizations like NAMBLA to exist? We used to feel bad for the kid whose parents split up, and now we wonder about the kid whose parents are together. I've seen kids delight in slasher movies but weep when animals get hurt on film. Is violence on the upswing because we make it look so normal on TV, movies, and video games, or are human beings just getting more violent?

I fear that America is in such moral decline simply because we're acclimated to it. What parents tolerate in moderation children indulge in excess. We're always looking for that next "big thing" because, well, we're bored with the last one. So ... at what point do we get acclimated to conditions so perverse that they destroy us ... and we just look on smiling because it's, well, normal?

7 comments:

Dan said...

Good point. I've wondered the same thing. I was talking to a 1st grade teacher 10 or so years ago who had recently retired after 35 years of teaching, and I ask her had the children changed over the years. Her answer: "they are violent today".

I too have wondered about the cause and effect. I am convinced that not only is it worse today, but it is getting worse-er at a an accelerating rate.

Stan said...

When we accept as "normal" what used to be "sinful", we find one of two things. 1) We were wrong before ... and for good reason. 2) We were right before ... but we just don't care. Unfortunately, the proponents of "what was sin is now normal" like to throw the first option at us (as if this proves something) and say, "What ... do you want us to go back to slavery?" (or something equally nonsensical).

Yes ... worse-er and accelerating.

Dan Trabue said...

Too often true, I must agree.

However, we have to keep in mind that as some things get worse (and I think they are), other things have improved. Racism is nowhere NEAR as tolerated as it was when I was a child.

It's perfectly fine and normal in most schools (at least urban schools, I can't speak to the rural ones) for a black and white kid to date. We have no more lynchings (or very few) as there were just as recently as my childhood in the 1960s.

Sexism is not nearly as bad as it once was. Homophobia is not what it once was (and here, I'm talking about the blatant assault and abuse of gay and lesbian kids, in addition to the verbal bullying - although we certainly have a ways to go on that front) - and even if you think being a homosexual is wrong, surely you would agree that it is nothing to be abused over.

Yes, things have gotten worse in some ways. But thank God, things HAVE improved in others.

The question seems to me to be, how do we make progress on fronts like racism, sexism and homophobia without getting worse in areas like being too promiscuous or in terms of divorce?

Stan said...

Improving conditions like racism and sexism are good things. When people say, "Well, when we throw those out, we throw out all that bad stuff," we're in deep trouble. You know ... "the baby with the bathwater."

Funny thing, though. When I was growing up I never learned racism, sexism or the notion that beating up sinners was a good idea. I was never taught them, and they never occurred to me. Maybe it didn't have to be that way. Or, more precisely, maybe Man has always been sinful, and we just trade "sins of the day".

Dan Trabue said...

Yes, I think your last suggestion is true. I don't generally buy into these "the world is going to hell in a handbasket." We have always had a bent towards sin and we still do. We may change the flavor of our sins, but sin remains with us and we are still God's children and some of us are God's followers and that portion remains with us, too.

In short, we have always had the good and the bad within and amongst us. We have always had people saying things are getting worse. And things have always gotten worse. And better.

I'm glad to hear that you never heard any sexism or racism or violence towards gays being taught to you growing up. I did, unfortunately, and sometimes (not often, thank God) amongst the "good church folk," unfortunately.

Stan said...

So, Dan (Trabue), you do not believe that the moral climate of our time (and our country) has declined in the last, say, 50 years? (Not to say that there hasn't been a thing or two improved. I'm just asking in an overall sense ... you know, given teen pregnancy rates, divorce, suicide rates, murders, all that stuff that you and I would agree is a problem.)

I understand that my childhood may not have been normal (although it was for me -- I mean, no one I knew was racist, sexist, or advocated violence toward sinners). My point wasn't that it was normal, but that it could be done -- lose the errors while retaining morality.

Dan Trabue said...

I believe quite obviously our moral climate has digressed in many ways and improved greatly in many other ways.

Just ask African Americans (and their friends and loved ones) if things aren't a million times better from a racism point of view and from an equal rights point of view and from a not getting lynched point of view.

Just ask women who want to have some job other than nurse or teacher if things haven't improved. Just ask a woman who was abused in the 1960s if things haven't improved greatly.

In many great and profound and Godly ways, things are significantly better.

In other ways, things are certainly worse. It is a shame that so many teens get pregnant. It is a shame that there are so many divorces.

My point is only that people have always longed for the "good old days" and the truth is that things always improve and things always get worse.