Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Epidemic

For about 2 months now I have be reading a book called The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children.  While the title will certainly when no awards for brevity, it quickly communicates the heart of this book.  The reason it has taken me 2 months to read this is because I have tried to go back and look at the original research that the author, Robert Shaw, M.D. references.  While I am still not done with the book I wanted to share a part of it with you, because on my recent trip to St. Louis I saw an example of the epidemic.

This past Saturday our family went to the St. Louis zoo with another family from church. And let me say, the St. Louis zoo is amazing (and FREE)!  While we where there though I saw a few things that surprised me.  First, the zoo is not smoke free. We spend a lot of time in Florida, where all public places are smoke-free.  The same is true for Baton Rouge, where we use to live. So I was a little confused when I saw people lighting up their cigarettes wherever they wanted.  Second, I was surprised by what people chose to wear to the zoo. No offense, but its not the place to go to look for a date (the smell in some places is little overpowering). Yet there were men and women alike who looked like they were ready to hit the singles bar with ultra mini-skirts, low tops, and guys "with your pants on the ground syndrome."  But the thing that really indicated to me the truth of the epidemic was the sight of a young teenage boy (13 or 14) with his family wearing the following shirt:
Did his parents not see a problem with this?  Obviously not since we walked around all day wearing it.  Here are some of the issues that this raised for me:
1. The person wearing this shirt is obviously underage.
2. The message is clearly selfish. I'm to lazy to do something for myself, something as simple as getting a beer.
3. The other message embedded in this shirt is that of low achievement.  "You are such a loser that the only thing you are good for is getting me a beer, even though I am too lazy to go a get it for myself.  Man you must really be a loser if you would listen to that."
And the messages could go on and on.  I would to hear your reaction to a teenager wearing this shirt. 

I'll close with this, from The Epidemic:
"Everything we do teaches our kids something about the nature of life and how to be a human being. As parents, we should constantly ask ourselves, 'What does my action in this situation teach my children?'"

I wonder what this young man is like at home.  I wonder what he learned by being allowed to wear a shirt like this out in public, with his family present.  I wonder what he'll be doing in 5 years.  I wonder...

You can get a copy of Robert Shaw's book here:

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