Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Value of Innocence

Wore camouflage on Halloween
A plastic bag, an M16
Door to door and house to house
There ain't nobody handing it out

At night it's cold
We sit and freeze
Running red lights in our Humvees
Never thought I'd live to see see the day, I'd be
Afraid of little kids playing in the streets

Well this ain't the woods behind the house
There ain't nobody screaming out
For you to come inside and eat
You're just holding your friends and watching them bleed

- Matthew Good,
Silent Army In The Trees

I was spoiled as a kid, and I got pretty much any toy I wanted: Transformers, He-Man, GoBots, Starriors, MASK, Visionaries, etc. I say pretty much because there was one toy that my parents never bought me, and that I would routinely get denied if I ever asked: GI Joe. I had friends that had GI Joe’s and I thought the toys were pretty kewl. But my parents didn’t budge. I never really got an answer for why, just that they didn’t approve.

Now I know why. Or more, I understand why.

At some point, my daughter will begin to understand how the world works. She’ll grow to learn about wars, hate, racism, poverty, drug and alcohol use, divorce, cancer, vehicle accidents, historical atrocities, kidnappings, thieves, liars, politics, discrimination…all the things that we as adults are aware exist in our world.

I was feeding my daughter this morning…she’s almost 3 months old. Looking into her eyes, I realized the value of innocence…how beautiful it was that this person I was holding had no grasp of the reality going on around her: the war in Afghanistan, the financial struggles of so many, the upcoming flu pandemic, the fear of countries with questionable intentions having nuclear weapons, etc.

Our children are constantly being pressured to grow up faster and faster. As children begin to engage in technology earlier in life, the dangers of exposing them to the reality of the world too early is heightened.

Its somewhat overwhelming. You want to protect them and keep them safe from all harm, and yet part of parenthood is easing them into the reality of the world, guiding them as they begin to experience and realize how the world works.

As a child, I didn’t understand the big deal about not playing with war toys. Now as an adult, I get it. I get why Halo 3 has an M rating. I understand better why, for the last year or so, I’ve thought it weird that more R rated content seems to be seeping into PG rated movies.

We, as parents, have such a better appreciation of what “innocence” really means and how valuable it is. We know it won’t last, but we can prolong its destruction by protecting our children from a continuously intrusive world for as long as possible.

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