Some of the best memories I have are of us driving. Not only do I have a captive audience, aka the hubby, but it is one of the few times my multi-tasking self has to sit and do absolutely nothing.
I’ve learned that the destination isn’t always the best part of the journey; even though there are many days when my car is full of crying, yelling children and adults. Some days I feel like I’m in the driver’s seat trailblazing my path. Others I feel like the passenger, relying on where the drive will take me. Yesterday as we drove from the suburbs into the city my mind kept thinking of the tragedy in Connecticut. Why? What was going through this guy’s mind? I felt guilty that I was in my car with my family of five; driving to enjoy the season with our close friends, the Stewarts. Little first graders aren’t going to spend the holidays with their families. My youngest was just in first grade last year and I was imagining not having Charlie around for Christmas. Life is not fair!? These are innocent little kids!!! I was making myself sick so I put my smartphone away and stopped trying to understand. As the passenger in this life, is this where our society is headed?
Just the night before, at bookclub, we talked about respect for property. One of the first grade teachers at school posted on her webpage how her class is destroying pencils, name tags, etc. I know our teachers pay for their supplies out of their own pockets. She made a plea for the parents in her class to talk with their children about respecting property. Can first graders get this concept? She mentions how one of her students stated that the parent can just replace the destroyed items with a VISA card. Done.
This was a lively discussion, amongst our group, and I posed the question to the hubby. Has respect for life and property gone by the wayside? Has video games like Black Ops: Call of Duty and all the instant gratification and media avalanche created the mess that is our society? Did this guy, who plugged a classroom of first graders and adults, think he was in a video game that he could reset? Before technology we used to toil the Earth, grow our own food and all members of a family contributed; doing chores, respecting their elders, valuing the family.
We are desensitized. We don’t see the farmer plant the seeds and harvest the field. We go to the grocery store. Chores? We are so busy with work, after school activities; life. Families spend more time in cars driving to and fro versus sharing a meal at the dinner table. Would I ever dream of killing my parent? Never. The thought is unfathomable. Instant gratification has made us incapable of waiting for anything. If the XBOX DVD is scratched, let’s ask Dad to buy another one. The value of taking care of the Earth, our neighbors, our things has become lost in the noise. The lights of the freeway blurred from my passenger window.
I returned to the discussion at bookclub and wished society could function like us. I needed resolution on a few issues and asked each person to consider and share their thoughts honestly. We worked through our differences to find common ground to reach our goals. I don’t necessarily agree with some of our choices but as a member I will abide by what the majority agrees to. What are our goals? Funny, we never really established them. So we went about defining what we are, what we felt we brought to the table and what we wanted to take away from it all. I know these hands will hold mine, one day, when I need them. And we all believed that, yes, a first grader should have the capacity to respect property. If they are not taught, now, when will they ever get it?
We need to teach empathy: the ability to identify, understand another’s situation, feelings or motives (freedictionary.com). I don’t feel a lot of empathy for the gunman, right now, but I do feel it for the families affected. I feel it for the family of the gunman; left to deal with his aftermath. I empathize with the teacher whose students disregard their school supplies. As parents, Dave and I had to define what our family goals are. All of the above issues are in our family mission statement. What is our end destination? Independent, individuals who: value a dollar and how hard it is to earn it. Do not get everything they want. Empathize with others. Value and take care of their things. But most of all love and respect: God, family and community. As members of society I’d like to hope that the majority of people believe in these same things. But if this is not the case I want my boys to know the difference and to forge their own way. I want them to be the drivers; not the passengers.