I made a mistake.
I watched (part) of a program called “The School To Prison Pipeline”. If I had inklings that the the United States has become such a sick society, I am now sure. The things the government does/has done to other countries are bad enough, but imposing systematic injustice on their own children is despicable.
Society glorifies firearms, with children indoctrinate, at worst, and influence, at best. Is there any wonder that kids play with toy guns and bring them to school. The problem is that overreaction to a few terror incidents has made guns in school a crime, even toy guns and even with children. The report mentioned a child being taken out of school in handcuffs for bringing a toy to class. I hope that this is an exaggeration, but I fear that it happened.
One theory is that this is one more means of feeding the monster of profit prisons. Greed and fear out-trump humanity and common sense. Children in Texas, which the program covered, are smothered with tickets, summons, and court appearances, where they are tried as adults and without parent protection. Of course, this costs money. People that cannot pay end up in debt or in prison or both. Feeding the machine and putting people in a hole for life.
I learned that all schools have armed uniformed officials, who are called “resource officers”. What the hell does that mean? They are cops. They are there to produce profits. Governments cut back on teachers, but ramp up on armed intruders. What kind of feeling to children have: fear, loathing, respect, who knows?
In my opinion, and the opinion of others I have read is that gun culture is responsible for school violence. in some Texas schools, teachers are required to carry loaded guns in class. Normal teenage behaviour often leads to arrest and conviction. Common sense has been destroyed by the demands of the fear mongers, gun lovers, and profiteers.
Articles appeared in English newspapers and news programs reported that a recent survey showed that most parents chose a girl in procedures that can be manipulated. The reason given was that girls are “easier” than boys. None of these people must have had experience with a teenaged female.
The desire is in stark contrast to china. Reports suggest that most abortions are targeted at girls. The Chinese tend to refer male descendants.
If these trends continues, the future might hold a lot of eurasian marriages, with an imbalance of sexes in different parts of the world.
Of course, there is no news on this subject from the United States, where everyone is crazy…
Tonight, we were at dinner at “the best Thai restaurant in Dubai”, supposedly having won this title for the past five years. The ambiance was wonderful, the food was excellent, and the service what one expects in Asia. Because we had chosen the early seating, because of having a child in the party, we were surrounded by tables with children. Every child had an electronic device, which keep them occupied, but also prevented interaction with grown-ups. The child with had one, which kept him from fussing and let us talk. One must take the good with the bad.
I recall having to entertain children at restaurants, before the advent of electronic diversions. We used books, colored pencils, and toys. We spoke to them and explained things, no matter how little they understood or how little sense we made. We kept them occupied and taught them discipline. Now, parents must achieve the same result, while competing with apps...
Having helped to torture--so to speak--an infant, I would not want to torture an adult or be present when others did the deed.
Unfortunately, children occasionally need blood tests. Even more unfortunately, extracting blood for such test is not easy. One learns how strong children are and how intense the survival instinct is, when they must be restrained to take extract blood. Even a two-year old requires four adults to pin him down, all of which must ignore the screams of a suffering child. And, the doctor has a difficult time finding a vein, all of which are tiny. Worse still, if one can’t be tapped in the arm, the next choice is the forehead. You can imagine the screams and struggle...
This is a classic case of "it doesn't help unless it hurts".
Observing the difference between the memory functions of a young child and an old person is interesting...and depressing. There are times when an old person does not remember what he or she did a few minutes earlier. A child, on the other hand, is able to recall actions from a week ago or several weeks ago. Age might have the advantage of more knowledge, but not all circuits fire all the time, as child strive to catch up. Life is not fair...
Even people speaking poor English can make themselves understood, which explains why the language has conquered the world. American students have it easy, because English is not a difficult language to learn and the grammar is simple. The best parts are that there is only one article, the, and no need to learn such pesky bits as case of nouns and pronouns: dative, genitive, and inquisitive (I made up the last one to test you!). I discovered the little grammar I know when trying to learn French in school. Some bits have even stuck in my deep memory, only to sneak back to the forefront if I venture across the border into France.
One of the first difficulties in learning a language is presented by the article (definite: the; indefinite: a or an). French has one more than English: the masculine le (un) and the feminine la (une). This made learning vocabulary twice as difficult. Difficulty increased geometrically when trying to learn German, because not only are there more, but each influences the spelling of any adjective. The bloody language has masculine, der (ein), feminine, die (eine), and neuter, das (ein). Each case has its rules demanding innumerable changes of both article, article, and noun, such as with dative, dem (einem), accusative den (denen), and genitive, den (denen).* Sadly, there is only one way to learn them: by rote. One misses the simplicity of the.
Learning vocabulary is difficult enough, if one must learn only nouns and verbs. With verbs, one must learn tenses and memorize conjugation. In most foreign languages, one must also learn the articles that tend to complicate every noun. Unfortunately, there is no rhyme or reason. In French, a table is feminine (la table), whereas in German the bloody thing is masculine (der Tisch). Perhaps, this explains why these two nations have been killing each other for centuries: they can’t agree on even simple things.
Today, when a 2-year old child corrected my German, I was reminded of two facts, both of which I know rather well and tend to choose to forget. The first is that children have an easier time learning a language than anyone struggling with a second language later in life. Second, I am intellectually lazy. Many years ago, I made a conscious decision not to worry about learning German articles. I learned most nouns and verbs, so I can understand almost everything and can often make myself understood. I usually get the article wrong, but have a 30% chance of being correct. People are surprised that an American speaks some German, so I get the benefit of the doubt and avoid most criticism. My children have been known to be apologetic (“My father cannot speak German very well.”), but I am not.
I sat with the child as he watched Curious George, one of his favorite television shows. Anyone familiar with the show knows that George is a monkey. The German word is Affe, which is masculine, so der Affe. There are no rules about articles, but I learned in one of my first courses that words ending in e usually are (usually) feminine. That stuck in my subconscious, so I said something about die Affe...and was immediately corrected by a damn 2-year old, who said “der Affe”. This was a knee-jerk reaction on his part, because I doubt he knows the difference between native speakers and trying-to-learn-the-language foreigners. The rest of my family have given up trying to improve my command of articles. I wonder how long he will need to join the crowd...
*NB. I do not guarantee correctness, because I did not check a grammar book. As with my daily struggles with the language, I relied on my imperfect memory.
I made another heartening discovery at the Christmas (nod to S.P.) market: not all children's toys are produced in Chinese factories.
Of course, most kids probably want plastic and electronic gadgets and playthings, but parents do have the choice...
I have noticed one difference between small children and some adults. When children are learning to speak, they have trouble expressing themselves. Their swelling brains are moving faster than their mouths, so the result is usually not understandable to anyone but the child. He or she know exactly what is being said, even if the sounds make no discernible sense.
There are some adults, on the other hand, whose mouth moves faster than his or her brain. One wonders if they are even capable of coherent thought.
If you read the following statistics, you will come to the conclusion that being a child in the United States is more dangerous than being a soldier in Afghanistan or a police officer, found in the Guardian article below.
“Nearly three times more children and teens were injured by guns in 2010 than the number of US soldiers wounded in action that year in the war in Afghanistan; 82 children under five died from guns in 2010, compared to 55 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.”
I wonder if such numbers make politicians, if they knew the facts, proud of themselves for permitting such lax gun laws. I wonder if they care more about campaign contributions and votes than they do about innocent children’s lives. I wonder what arguments they would use to excuse their disregard for these--and continued growing number of--victims. I would like to see the look on the face of any politician, as he or she goes through the verbal contortions to justify such behavior and its impact on innocent lives.
The writer, the always intelligent Ana Marie Cox, sums up the problem:
“Over and over, the public's willingness (even eagerness) to tighten gun laws has been outmatched by the cowardice of politicians in mysterious thrall to the National Rifle Association.”
Sadly, citizens/residents of the United States do not live in a country with a democracy of the people, for the people, and by the people. They live/reside in a country of ruled by greed, profit, and spineless politicians. Protest is pointless: all people in a position to act are too afraid, too powerless, or too beholden to special interests.
Of course, this piece appears in the Guardian, which has limited circulation in the United States and is read, I imagine, by people who find gun legislation insane. How can one believe in a country--not at war and not in an early stage of development--that lets its children be slaughtered on a daily basis? How can one respect its leaders, or supposed “leaders”. The reasons are obvious, but no excuse is possible.
If killing of children is not bad, how about shooting innocent people. (“Man Seeking Help After North Carolina Car Crash Shot by Police “ or “NYPD shoot bystanders in Times Square” or “Indiana cop repeatedly tasers elderly Alzheimer’s patient”) Have gun, will shot. And kill. Gun ownership has taken precedent over the Constitution’s promise of the pursuit of happiness, of which staying alive and unshot is a major component. And, the Second Amendment is far more important than all other freedoms combined. What happened?
The situation is bad, but hopeless.
And, if you want so more good news to cheer you, up can continue reading Ana. Note the bit about “Poverty in America”. It must be fun being white, female, and poor, especially in the South...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.