Inspiring children in 2019

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

When I was a lad, my dad told me that his dad told him that children should be seen and not heard. In those olden days this passed for wisdom. My dad was serious. I only received "the belt" three times, but two of them were for telling my mom to shut up and giving her the finger, a non-verbal form of communication (For the record, I deserved "the belt" many more than three times). So much for free speech. Parents in the olden days did not believe that parenting required them to somehow inspire their offspring.

Parenting for my Baby Boomer generation and their progeny evolved to include inspiring their kids. For years now, parents have been telling their children they can be anything they want to be, which is preposterous. Genetics, economics, sociology and plain old bad and good luck combine to foreclose many of life's paths. Telling your kids they can be anything they want to be suggests that the failure to achieve is their fault, setting them up for disappointment that can curdle into anger and resentment.

The corollary to this folly is the shibboleth that anyone and everyone can save the world. Now that is truly ridiculous. In fairness, Jonas Salk did have some small impact on the world with his discovery of the polio vaccine — at least until moronic parents decided not to immunize their children. But for every Jonas Salk, there has been a Hitler, a Stalin or Mao who changed the world for the worse with their murdering messianic ambition. (Trump discussion unnecessary.)

Every whack job with an AK-47 or AR-15 seems to have a Facebook page that documents his desire to change the world in accord with his insane vision.

District 97's Irving School has, to my mind, a better, less grandiose approach to inspiring kids. In south Oak Park this month, yard signs have sprouted with three succinct, humble messages to the boys and girls returning to school.

YOU MATTER – an affirmation of the great liberal tradition that, regardless of your race, creed, color or economic status, you as a human being should give, and expect to receive, the respect of your fellow human beings.

YOU BELONG – an affirmation that we humans are social animals who must be connected to others with the bonds of family and community. Belonging is the social air we must breathe.

YOU ARE ENOUGH – This one is my favorite. It is the cure for the preening egoism of the age. You don't need a Facebook page to document your awesome life of cool vacations, cute kids and fancy restaurants. Trying your best to be a good person is a worthy goal.

The simple credo of these three short declaratory sentences is truly inspiring. 

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Mary Kay O'Grady  

Posted: September 10th, 2019 4:13 PM

You gave your mother the finger - and lived to tell it?

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