I read an article today about several parents who pulled their children out of a freshman english class. They did not like a book the class was reading. The book addresses issues of race, with all the accompanying social and legal issues. The book ends with the death of a young black man at the hands of an off duty policeman. The parents say it is inappropriate reading for high school freshmen. They say it shows the police in a bad light and has sexuality and language they find objectionable. The school district stood up. They said it’s important for young people to know about the lives and challenges of people not like themselves. They created an opportunity for the parents to use an authorized alternative curriculum for their children. There are questions whether that effort will be successful.
This sort of thing happens all the time, everywhere across America. Parents want to protect their children. That is understandable. What they want to protect them from says a lot about who they are as parents and as people. Some people say they want to protect their children from things but they are really afraid of ideas. Others say they wish to shield their sons and daughters from ideas but they are actually frightened of things. All of these parents, with few exceptions, frankly seek to protect their children from learning how not to be afraid of the things or ideas they themselves are afraid of. They do this instead of protecting them from what can cause real trauma. This is a shame. But it is a function of being human. We all feel our fears are legitimate and it is our duty to teach our children to fear them as well.
These unfortunate ways of looking at life influences many of the ideas and things a person believes in and does, from their political philosophies and social mores to their concepts of family discipline, reward, and punishment. These sorts of suspect actions take place among all demographics. No one is spared from the consequences of distorting how they present their worst fears to future generations. We all need to honestly examine our deepest fears and how we express them. They come from our unconscious minds and are difficult to access. But if we want to evolve as a species this task must be done.
I’ve started taking an inventory of my most unfounded fears. We all should. I hope yours aren’t as challenging as mine.