This phrase has been said more times than I can count by myself and others my age as we advance in years. I'm not that old - I'll be 39 next month - but life is radically different today than it was when I was growing up in the 1970's, even though some of the fashion styles have come back around full circle. We didn't have all of the cable channels, the computers, or any of the sophisticate video games to entertain us (Atari anyone?). Going outside to ride our bikes or playing football in the backyard was heaven to me.
My kids love to play and they also love good entertainment. But there are cartoons and "kid shows" on TV that, honestly, just aren't that great or wholesome. Shows like Bugs Bunny and Speed Racer and Huckleberry Hound are still around, but they are mired in the upper tier of digital cable and satellite TV.
My son Deacon loves basketball, so this morning I went to You Tube and typed in the words "Space Jam" for him and his sisters. They were amazed at how cool this combination animated/real movie was. In fact, they were so taken back by the clips that I wound up ordering the video for them to watch on pay-per-view. It's hard to believe that a movie like this has been out for 13 years now, and we all know that Michael Jordan is no saint, but the old-school feel of it washed me over with nostalgia.
Before you think that I'm leading the brigade to bring back "Leave it to Beaver" on every channel, that's not exactly what I'm getting at. What I miss - what I am lamenting - is what seems to me to be an end of innocence in our society. Maybe that's why the "High School Musical" phenomenon has been so successful: It's refreshingly clean. As a parent, I know that I am responsible for what is viewed or heard in my home and I wish the options that were out there made my choices easier.
It's not easy defining what innocence is today, but to me it's allowing (even helping) kids maintain their "kid-ness" without all of the grown up stuff piled on top of them. Let me give you a graphic example of innocence lost that I read about in today's local paper.
In one region of Pakistan there is growing controversy over Sharia law being enforced on women. Sharia is a legal system based upon the Qur'an and groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan were strict proponents of its enforcement. A video has surfaced of a woman being held down by two men as another whips her in public for a "crime" that has yet to be uncovered. Some have defended the punishment while others have denounced part of it, saying it should not have been enforced in public. But here's the part that gets me: A spokesman for the region where this incident occurred said that "it should not have been done in public and should have been carried out by a boy who had not yet reached puberty." Really? You mean it's okay to allow a pre-pubescent kid to whip a grown woman for moral crimes just because he is not yet awakened to the desires that a grown man faces?
The thought of a young boy carrying out such a punishment sickens me. And while this is an issue that we will most likely not face in America, it does illustrate that it's not just us that are guilty of defacing innocence for our kids. As a kid, the main worry I had was how long I could play outside before mom would call me inside, not what those images on the computer screen were or whether or not it was okay to speak to my parents like the kids on TV do. I know that there were moral issues "back in the day," but they seem so far removed from what our kids are inundated with today. I'll end with the words of Jesus from Matthew 18:6: "But whoever causes the downfall of one of these little ones who believe in Me--it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea."
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