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Our Kids Are Alright. What About Theirs?

Let me tug on your heart strings briefly with some lyrics: You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains; You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas; I am strong, when I am on your shoulders; You raise me up: To more than I can be. (c) Josh Groban [ten second movie of shaky crowd scenes as the class sings the song] As far as pop lyrics go, those are incredibly sappy, the kind of lyrics that make you retch unless you're really drunk or really PMS. But when those words are heard as sung by a choir of 100 fifth grade boys and girls who have dedicated the song to their parents and grandparents and you can actually feel the sincerity flowing out from their voices, I dare you not to cry. Each of the fifth grade teachers yesterday gave a short speech before handing the certificates to each of their students. The principal and vice-principal gave a speech as well. And they each said the same thing, in essence: They are so hopeful for the future of this world because of the potential they see in our children. Their character, thirst for knowledge, respect for each other and work ethic made these teachers and administrators so proud that each of them actually beamed as they glanced out at the children. And the kids beamed back. When those boys and girls stood up to sing the closing song, I had this overwhelming sense of hope. The kids are alright. Like any parent, I worry about the world we are raising our children in. I worry about the future, about safety and terrorism and war. Our kids are growing up with a fear we never knew. Sure, I had the shadow of the cold war hanging over my childhood, but it was almost like fiction. It was a what if scenario, a boogey-man. My kids have seen the towers fall. They have seen a gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon. Fear isn't a mysterious shadow that follows them around. It is a solid, living, breathing monster. Of course, they don't think about it all the time, but it's there. It's there on cloudy days when the planes fly too close for comfort. It's there when the breaking news sound chimes on the television. It's there in their dreams sometimes, and it's there in the poetry and fiction they write. But the fear does not cripple our children. I look at the kids I know and I see a determination to move on, to make things better, to figure out how to make this world work. When I was their age, everyone wanted to be either a fireman or a teacher. These kids want to be leaders. They want to take charge of the world so they can make it peaceful and safe. Being fifth graders, they still have the lofty goals of dreamers; they want to be president. They won't settle for much less. Ask my daughter's peers, the fourteen year old kids, what they want to be and they talk about becoming senators and congressmen. They want to be policy makers. See, the children are our future. Whitney Houston was right about one thing, at least. We have to let them lead us but in order to do that, we have to teach them how to lead. We have to teach them what is important. We have to show them the way. After spending the day yesterday reflecting on those sentiments and resolving to strengthen the ways in which I lead my kids to be honest, caring individuals, I came across this. It appears to be a video of Arab children re-enacting the Nick Berg beheading. This is not the firs time I've seen young Arab children being taught to hate and kill Americans and/or Jews with glee. It won't be the last. But it horrified me so much that took away every ounce of good feeling I had left from the day. Those children are the future. Will they eventually become the adults who go after my own children? Will they one day come to America to fly planes into buildings or set off dirty bombs? So, I am raising my children to want peace, hope and prosperity for all nations, but there are children of other nations being raised to kill, kill, kill. How do we combat that? How can we still have hope for our future generations when our enemies are teaching their own kids to only hope for death to the infidels? Perhaps we cannot win. Not if the bloodlust and violence is handed down like that. Not if it is taught in schools - which was evident in pre-war Iraq, among other places - not if it is taught at Palestinian day camps, not if children are being taught to kill the Jews, kill the Americans, slice their heads off their necks. How do we instill hope in our own kids when it just might be a false sense of hope? What if we manage to take out al-Qaeda, take out al-Sadr's martyrs and instill a beautiful wonderful democracy in both Afghanistan and Iraq, only to have it all undone by the children of those martyrs and killers, who were educated by would-be suicide bombers and hateful murderers? Is this a war that we are destined to fight forever? You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains; You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas; I am strong, when I am on your shoulders; You raise me up: To more than I can be. Perhaps this is all a matter of interpretation. One parent's mountain is another parent's jihad. I raise my children to hope and dream and work for a world where everyone just gets along, as liberal as that sounds. Another parent raises their kid to hope and dream and work for a world where only people like them exist, all others must die. Yes, the children are the future. Not just ours, but these children and these children who are smiling and hopeful and no longer being taught to hate. At this point, I can only hope that there are more like you and I than there are like the others, that our children's dreams will somehow outweigh the nightmare visions of children indoctrinated with murderous lessons. Peace. Prosperity. Hope. Of course that's what we all want for our kids. So how do we reconcile that with what they want for their kids? Or are we destined to fight this war of ideas and civilizations forever? a few end notes, below
end notes:
1. Pre-emptive arguments, to keep the trolls at bay: I am not saying all Arab children are raised like that. I know that's what some of you will take out of this, because you tend to leap before you look. It should be pretty apparent that I am talking about those being raised jihad-style.
2. I am well aware that their are children right here in America being taught to hate. It makes me sick to see kids raised in KKK style families. The fact that they at least aren't being schooled in how to behead a Jew doesn't really make their lifestyle any more palatable.
However, I am also saddened to see there are people raising their kids to hate their own country, before they have even had a chance to make up their own mind about it. Let your children live their own lives, let them decide for themselves whether or not our country is comparable to Hitler's Germany or old school Russia. Teaching them hatred for their own country and its president and to hate conservatives and Republicans and, in some cases, soldiers, at such an early age really makes you no better than the folks raising their kids to hate blacks or Jews.
I've got two kids. One is a vegetarian liberal who will probably join PETA some day. The other has a Bush-Cheney pin on his backpack. Kids are able to form their own opinions without your indoctrination, which is really dishonest to your children's best interest. Which is all just my opinion.

Comments

How do we combat that? How can we still have hope for our future generations when our enemies are teaching their own kids to only hope for death to the infidels?

Those are the magic questions.

Dealing with hatred within smaller organizations like the KKK is much easier than combatting an entire nation that is teaching these things. And, maybe not all Arab children are being taught this way, but these things you speak of are in many of their school books...at least the part about Jews being responsible for all of the bad in the world.

This is pretty scary stuff long term. I don't want my son to be dealing with this when he has grown, but what choice do we have? I don't think I can teach him about peace with others who desperately want to see us obliterated. But, I can teach him what their children are taught and tell him how it is so wrong. This way, at the very minimum, he'll know that they are taught lies.

Michelle, yours words are very powerful. I agree that to stop all of the hating, the Muslims must first stop teaching their children to hate us and the Jews. It baffles me, everytime I see a suicide bomber. They are usually young people that blow themselves up. I wonder where are the parents. Surly to God no one would want their child to be a suicide bomber, but then you hear that it is taught in the Mosque, and even in the schools. Yes, our children are our future, we know that but does the Palestinian parent no that. My sense is, how can they no that,when their children are growing up to be the next suicide bombers. Instead of statesmen, they are getting training in suicide and beheadings. All I have is the power of pray. I pray daily for these people. God, open their eyes so they can see there is no tomorrow in a culture of death.

I don't care who or what sings that song... it's hideous.

This is hardly a pop song, and Josh Groban is a real singer not some American Idol wannabe.

Michele, of course not all Arab kids are raised that way. This is an encouraging sign.

It is encouraging because the American kids their age, who join the Armed Forces when they come of age, won't have to deal with the entire cohort of Arab children in that age bracket--just the ones who play make-believe games like the one in that video.

Our kids play army, or cops and robbers; theirs play "cut the head off a bound, helpless non-combatant". I have an idea which side will win, and I hope it's ours.

The saddest part of the cycle is that those children will not always be able to strike out at the west and America and Israel. At some point, they will turn on their own people (like in Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran), and somewhere in the minds of the parents will come a blinding flash of realization. But then it will be too late.

The Kids Aren't Alright:

When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat

Now the neighborhood's cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives

Chances thrown
Nothing's free
Longing for what used to be
Still it's hard
Hard to see
Fragile lives, shattered dreams

Jamie had a chance, well she really did
Instead she dropped out and had a couple of kids
Mark still lives at home cause he's got no job
He just plays guitar and smokes a lot of pot

Jay committed suicide
Brandon OD'd and died
What the hell is going on
The cruelest dream, reality

Bryan, forgive my contradicting you, as you seem decent and humane, but you have it backwards: the saddest part of the cycle very much is that they "strike out at the west and America and Israel."

If all they did was "turn on their own people", I would sleep content, and not spend an over-generous amount of time thinking about Arabs or Muslims.

cause ya teach 'em to hate dark people..

Earl, you're an ass.

Zoloft: Worst. Offspring song. Ever.

Michelle as CBG: Come on! The Offsping has plenty of songs that makes "The Kids Arent Alright" sound like Mozart's 4th Symphony in comparason. :P

I love the Offspring, even their horrid songs off of American. But there's something about Kids that really irks me. Besides the whole Jim Carroll rip-off thing, that is.