Fighting Danger with Danger

I was listening to a TED talk on my iPhone the other day and one of the talks was about danger and how young people deal with it. I didn't necessarily agree with the author and as to how he would solve the problem so I would like to offer up my own thoughts on the subject. Fear wears many faces. I'm not talking about the combative variety that you will find on a battlefield but rather the everyday kind that we perceive as dangerous. These dangerous situations are very different for each person.                  Danger becomes a problem when it starts to rob a person of their self confidence and worth as they grapple with every day difficulties and come up on the short end of the stick.                    It can cause a person to settle for the kind of job that offers supposed security or to settle for a relationship that is safe and convenient. Even greed is a way to “safety up” in hopes that it will keep the "wolf from the door".              I don't know if my 20th Century experiences translate into 21st Century solutions but by having a good measure of luck on my side and a cupful of common sense.  I’m here now in the new 21st century with the rest of you. What I see that is most troubling today is watching common sense being replaced today with computer sense. They are not inter changeable they are distinctly different but both are very necessary.                Common sense is learned by experience, over time and is based on how the world turns. It is Mother Nature’s way of exposing her laws of reality to humanity. For me they show themselves in my gut. You just know when different situations arise and your GUT tells you how to react, while computer knowledge is factual and most times correct, it leaves out the GUT reaction. So the key word is both, but in today's world common sense might be straggling behind. This discrepancy I believe, in time, will cause our society to suffer with a case of those insufferable “unintended consequence”.            How are we doing, down grading common sense in today's world? I think pretty well. You start by taking from the lives of today's Millennials many of the time honored practices that helped the youth of the past to deal with their fears. But society today has judged that many of 20th Century solutions have too much danger attached to them. Let me just name a few. A pocket knife to whittle a stick, having a Bebe Gun, learning how to build a fire then to jump over it, playing football, playing Kick The Can, playing Tag. At many of our grammar schools today they have been banned as they are too dangerous by principals that don't understand their job, which is to help make future members of our society useful and nice to be around. Then there's changes in the way kids back then spent their "not in school time", working on an old car that didn't run and the joy came when you got it to start. Riding a bicycle with a sack lunch to a friends house and then be gone for a whole Saturday without adult supervision. At 13 years of age yearning to be 14 when you could get a junior operators car license, of having a summer job and for many an after school job so there was a little money at the end of the week to buy a pair of pants or maybe a movie with friends, as for my family summer vacations trips we always went camping which kick started my love affair with the great outdoors and Cattle Ranching as a life’s work. I know that was a 20th Century life style and this is the 21st Century, things are different! But society must still find ways to turn out citizens capable of making the 21st Century one to be proud of. Some how or another we must use our intellect to do more than constantly make an iPhone ever more potent while imaginations are left with little to do. I can’t say common sense enough times and we have to use the rule of law based on reality as a guiding light rather than always, politicizing our needs and then use the “Warm Fuzzies” as a way to legislate for the good of the electorate or maybe a way to get re-elected.              What happened to all these experiences that unbeknownst to our youth that would some day give them the confidence to embrace a situation that might have been scary even dangerous was now doable. A pocket knife could be opened and carelessly closed so a finger was sliced open, blood flowed but with a little Alcohol and a Band Aid a youth had something to talk about and a little more care would be given when the next stick was whittled.  Building a fire has been the job for a young boy and in today's society a young girl. Building a successful fire is embedded in our D.N.A. to ward off those unknowns out their in the dark and in turn brought great joy to the builder. Even if you only have a backyard, a fire is still a fire and when you get to roast a Hot Dog over your fire and then finish the evening off with a roasted Marshmallow, one more danger is turned into "I can do that". This event will always be relevant and important in a child's life.                         I know that our countries landscape has changed, being much more crowded and our parenting skills in this environment I believe are not working very well. The dilemma as I see it, is our determination to make every facet of a child's life safe at all cost for the risk of injury is too of a big a cross to bear. Risk taking is not an option it's a necessity. My wife and I decided early on that we would rather raise our 4 children exposed to reasonable danger on our ranch than try to protect them from all chances of harm and end up with an emotional cripple still living at home and with no thought of leaving. Some how or another today's parents have to come to grips with the need for danger in the lives of their children and to not consider themselves bad parents when one gets hurt or God forbid killed.                For me I think one of the most destructive things we parents have done to our youth is to tell them that you want their lives to be better (easier) than ours. So we took the chance to learn skills like being reliable, show up on time, give a days work for a days wages, know how to take orders, then started denying these valuable experiences by viewing these life experiences as not necessary in making their lives better than it was for me. We started with child labor laws, then followed it up with a minimum wage that made most kids to expensive to hire. So now summer vacation starts with our youth relegated to playing Video Games or watching T.V. which leaves our now 18 or 19 year old with a high school diploma and no skills to go with it and he or she is a little uneasy as what to do next. That soon turns to anger when you promised me a better life but you gave me damn little to work with.           We've got the answer, we will send all our high school graduates to college which just kicks the can a little farther down the road, then they will be ready for the real world, sorry but after 4 years of studies and still living in a very organized and safe environment our student graduates with still have damn little to work with.             "Society" you promised me a high paying job with benefits. Guess what? Our student doesn't have a Pocket Knife and sleeps in, so was late for his or her first day of work. Society, it's not my fault it's your fault and "I'm mad and scared for there's much danger to be reckoned with and I don't how to deal with it. You didn't prepare me, I'm going home to a place I know is safe, that's my room and I can still be on my parents health plan and I'm hoping that I won't have to pay rent because I don't have a job.                         See Ya                          Jack



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