I have been struggling with the perfect way to write this. Unfortunately, there is no perfect way to write this because it’s a topic that everyone wants to glaze over.
I could be dramatic and tell you that our youth are dying. Literally and Figuratively, but would that really grab your attention? There are so many stories of teenagers killing each other that it may be something you no longer give a second thought about. Especially if the kids in your life reside in affluent areas far away from the crime, drugs and despair of some major American cities you might think that those issues don’t affect you.
So those kids are fine.
Because those are the kids that probably need more guidance. They have too much freedom and not enough discipline. Some parents in affluent areas take on a more hands off approach, rather opting for the I’m Not Your Parent, I’m Your Friend approach. Let me be the first to tell you, that shit doesn’t work. If you’re going to be the figure of authority you have to be able to understand your kids but also know when to snap them back to attention whenever they step over the line.
I could tell you that our kids need attention but you might counter that statement with ‘Attention? I buy my kid whatever he/she wants!‘ or ‘They get enough attention from their friends‘
Once again, as the authority figure you set the boundaries. You make the rules. Kids don’t come pre-programmed with respect, concern and responsibility. Those traits are taught by the influential adults in their lives.
I could tell you that we are in a dire State of Emergency with our youth, but I would have to say that it’s a half truth. Because I know some really good kids that go to school, have jobs, love their families, attend church, use their brains and are generally good people with positive energy. They give love because they get love and there is nothing worse than a child who doesn’t know what it means to be loved by somebody. Because those children turn into mean-spirited adults and no one ever wants to deal with a person who’s bitter and angry.
Unfortunately this is where the other half of the half truth comes in. The media never focuses on positive examples of our youth because they’re not the ones who invoke fear into the hearts of the masses.
The children we tend to hear about are the rowdy girls fighting in schools, or the rowdy boys knocking people out for fun. We see a multitude of videos on the Internet that showcase people of various ethnic backgrounds fighting. The ringside ticket holders at these Hood Fights pull out their phones, begin recording with their cameras and commentate as the action goes down. This has almost become an American pastime.
If the new definition of pastime is now ratchetness, mind you.
And by the way, can we discuss the word ‘ratchet’ for a moment? As a street term I know it means terribly ghetto, stank and wrong on so many levels. But did you know that ‘Ratchet’ is an actual word?
Here is it’s true definition:
a device consisting of a bar or wheel with a set of angled teeth in which a pawl, cog, or tooth engages, allowing motion in one direction only.
a situation or process that is perceived to be deteriorating or changing steadily in a series of irreversible steps.
Whenever we say something or someone is ratchet we’re basically saying that there’s no hope for them whatsoever. They are corrupted, and redemption is wasted on them because their lifestyles cannot be corrected.
When the term ratchet is placed on an adult that’s fine because once you’ve hit a certain age you are 100% responsible for your actions. However, when you place this title on our youth and they grow up believing in the ‘ratchet’ label they’ve been given they start to embody the word as a part of their character. Their behavior envelopes the word as who they are, but anyone with eyes can see that it’s really just a cry for help. And as adults, aren’t we supposed to guide our youth when they need us?
Before I began to write this post I was on Facebook conversing with a family member who’s a nurse. She informed me that certain special needs children are placed in nursing homes and other types of facilities once they’ve reached the age of 21. This is reminiscent to me of when foster children are released from foster care once they’ve aged out at 18 years old.
What this says to me is that these children are worthy of being cared for until they’re legal and then it’s ‘Fuck Off!’. They’re left to either fend for themselves or be buried amongst the elderly. In the case of foster kids, the ones who don’t find jobs or sustainable income become homeless. The streets are no place for any child without a foundation or a plan. Being 18 doesn’t necessarily make them mature enough to care for themselves and in some cases homeless teens turn to prostitution, robbery or drugs.
I remember that we used to live by the mantra ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. The new mantra is ‘Keep them kids out my damn village’. And that’s where the main problem lies. Because the failure of a child to become a responsible citizen cannot solely fall on the child. We all have a hand in that failure because they’re children and look to us for examples of what to do. So if we don’t give a fuck about them then they, in turn, won’t give a fuck about us.
There is a serious disconnect between the youth and the adults in this country. The youth have been given technology and new ways of communicating that are hollow, empty and unsatisfying. They’ve been raised in a world where faster equals better, music is manufactured and recycled, and the Human Experience has been condensed, ranging from ‘How Many Likes and “Friends” Can I Get on Social Media’ to ‘How Many People Can I Shoot or Beat Up on Live or PSN?’.
As people we don’t talk anymore. We comment on statuses. We “like” photographs. We send grammatically incorrect text messages.
We don’t trust each other at all. The next time you walk down the street say ‘Hello’ to someone and see what their reaction is.
The saddest thing is that many of you just thought to yourself ‘Why would I speak to someone I don’t know?’
We’ve grown technologically but lost the spiritual connectedness that makes us human.
We love our gadgets more than we love each other.
Hell, we love our pets more than we love each other.
I could continue with this eulogy for the passing of our common sense and love for mankind, but why bother?
The proof lies in the examples we leave for the children we are raising. Because they’re the ones who will run with the ball that we throw them. And once our time is over, and their children have slipped into something worse than what they remember as common decency, one has to wonder if they will feel anything at all by that point.