Great song done by Pete Seeger and others over 40 years ago. Some of us from that generation, ex-hippies (for the most part) now, are still around. The whole peace and love thing, you know: “Make Love Not War” was our credo. Watching this youtube video from 1963 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgOXqNq7fqc, it is easy to recall why we said and felt those things. But history has proved them ill advised.
It seems rather simplistic now. Let’s face it, both sides of any conflict need to have the same belief in peace or you are in trouble. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a perfect example. As a lover of peace I am way too smart to be a pacifist. You see I fully intend for myself and my progeny to survive, God willing.
As a former Scout and Scout Leader I put full faith in the motto “Be Prepared.” Ben Franklin once made the statement, “One sword often keeps another in the scabbard.” Somewhere along the way to the 21st Century we, as a nation, lost that understanding. It seems that in preparing for a better future we may have messed up big time. Our intentions were to create a better world for the future generations. The idea goes all the way back to the very beginning of our country. This quotation from our second President John Adams is a perfect example.
“The science of government is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take place of, indeed to exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” John Adams in a letter to his wife during the Revolutionary War. The American Enlightenment – Koch, page 188.
Back in the 1700 & 1800s we Americans were a sturdy bunch. By and large you were either very resilient or dead at a young age. Consider how raw the environment was. People struggled and it toughened them and taught them self sufficiency. Living in that hard world, parents had basically two goals. Foremost is the obvious: the survival and health of your family. But it is the secondary goal that changed the world.
Those of you who have children already know what that second goal was, because it still burdens us. I want my children to live in a better world than I do. How about you? And so it began.
Each generation tries to improve the world, part of it for personal reasons and partially to make the next generation have it easier. What could be more normal? The fault here lies in not thinking it all the way through. To strive to make their life and the world better is a terrific goal, but to make it easier…..
When we deny ourselves the struggle, we deny ourselves the growth that comes through that struggle. Les Brown says, “In the good times you put it in your pocket, but in the bad times you put it in your heart.”
The fundamental principle is that hard work teaches certain virtues and enables us to advance beyond our circumstances.
There has now been about eight generations since John Adams wrote that letter. And in each time period the vast majority of parents strove to make the lives of their offspring easier. And the result is plain to see, as plain as it is ugly.
I’m sure you have noticed the high rate of functional illiteracy and complete lack of work ethic prevalent in a growing percentage of the population. What about a chronic lack of respect for others and their property? That stems from getting it all handed to you, ‘sweat equity’ is an idea of the past. Two or three generations of people growing up living their entire life on government welfare, food stamps and free health care at the ER break has broken their spirit by demolishing self image.
I was taught somewhen by someone (truly don’t recall) that the rebellious child is often crying out for rules. Pushing the limits is a form of trying to learn the restrictions. Read that as looking for the ‘do not cross line.’ When discipline went out the window so did any sense of personal responsibility.
The genuine hope for a better future for our children lies in a tougher today. Teach your children to study negotiation, politics and war. Then, if they choose to, they can study architecture and perhaps poetry. True love is not only gentle, it is also firm. Love your children properly and they will love you back as better, happier people.