We’ve been on hiatus for a few weeks, and before the cast returns next week, here are two submissions from frequent contributors on the following question: What is the most serious dilemma facing the children in your country today?
I am not sure what the most serious dilemma facing children today is. Each generation faces challenges.
When I was growing up in the fifties and sixties, I think it was nuclear weapons that made me feel most afraid.
I watched TV shows about the victims and survivors of Nagasaki, Hiroshima. The radiation sickness, the mutant genes, the birth defects.
My neighbors built a fall-out shelter. At my school we had bomb drills. We took shelter under our desks usually, but once we filed down into the school basement.
In 1963 when I was 13, the Soviet Navy sailed to Cuba with intercontinental ballistic missiles on board. With enemy nukes just 90 miles from the United States, war seemed imminent.
When the news broke, my family gathered to make plans. If we were separated and survived we would meet up at the parish church.
We hoped. We prayed.
After 13 days of a standoff, the Soviets finally sailed their missiles back home to Russia.
I grew up in the shadow of the nuclear bomb and the threat of annihilation at any time.
Absurd it might be, but sometimes I feared the reality of giving an oral report more than the possibility of bombs falling.
I grew to be an adult. My generation fought for clean air and water and an end to nuclear proliferation. We fought for the belief that all people are created equal. We made progress.
Hard to believe that our children must re-fight these battles. I’ll help.
I have fears for children in my adopted country of Australia, and my home country of the United States, and nations which are falling under the spell of US Donald Trump’s protectionist ideology.
Children are not effective arbiters of information. They absorb what is around them, and integrate early messages as a framework for the adults they will one day be.
Trump has sent a consistent messages of intolerance, suspicion for the neighbors we live beside, colleagues at work, children who attend school in the same classroom. How can a child separate an agenda fraught with bias and paranoia from reality?
I also fear what will happen to our fragile planet. I am not a greenie, though I do what I can to reduce the footprint my life has on the climate and the environment. But it’s a drop in the ocean, and the raft of current and planned US policies, constructed to disregard what we have left in favor of corporate interests led by the dollar, worries me. If nations who have signed the Paris Agreement cannot stand independent of the current US administration’s decision to renege, in what state are we leaving this Earth for our kids?
That really worries me. I often look at the state of the world, and know when it comes time to leave it, I will likely feel relieved and devastated at the condition in which I’ve, we’ve, left it for uncomprehending children today. There is so much work to be done, and it feels as though we are undoing what good we began. That is unforgivable. I would hope instead things are so wondrous, so filled with promise, hope and beauty, it will tear me apart to go.
In nations like the US, we promise our kids whales and elephants, polar bears, and that there will always be food on the table. If things continue as they are, we adults are truly amazing storytellers.
NEXT WEEK’S QUESTION: US President Donald Trump has claimed the media is an enemy of the people. Do you trust the media?
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