I do not believe that the stress and pain of growing up is our problem. Instead, I believe that we have made avoidance of the stresses and pains of growing up into the stress that is leading to physical injury, mental and emotional dysfunction, lifestyle diseases, and chronic illnesses.
If our first decade of life offers stress and pain, then doesn’t it seem that our trajectory is to become experts at managing stress and pain, at managing the Kubler-Ross cycle of change, of grief, of death (e.g. transitioning to life as a toddler requires change: the end, hence death of life as a baby, the end of baby behaviours and habits, and striving for the abilities of a toddler).
The first decade is a period when change is a constant, where the skills of stress and pain management are in development, and with their development we climb higher, solve big and bigger challenges, we strive for goals, for dreams, we identify our purpose, we grow up.
If our first decade of life is nothing but stress and pain, then by the time we are adults, we should be not avoiding stress, eliminating stressors, instead we should be taking on challenges head on, taking on the world, seeing how and where we can make our own footprints. If you are an expert in a field, why stop, why not press on, continue to discover, to explore, to grow up?
Instead our adult and teenage populations have lost themselves in the massive popularity pissing contest commonly referred to as ‘social media’: the incessant comparison of life moment to moment in torrid combination of selfies, hashtags, emojis, texts and chats. Life is no longer lived in full colour, in multi dimensions, but in 140 character messages (soon to be unlimited I understand… as if it makes any difference).
Instead of taking the momentum of a decade of stress and pain experience and transforming it into stress and pain management skills for adult life and adult challenges, the university age population are incapable of reading anything with even an undertone of violence, of abuse, of reality because so fragile are they that everything, and I mean everything is “emotionally traumatic”. If “Trump 2016” written in chalk is a violation of college student safety on campus, leading to fears for their well-being, then how can the extermination of Jews during World War II, the Rwandan genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsis, the reigns of punishing and torturing dictators throughout the centuries, the realities of addiction, of prejudice, of violence, discrimination, and narcissism be truly discussed. As an outcome of the inflexibility and feebleness of the frightened X thru Z Generations, professors are being told to rewrite their university course syllabi to suit the fragile state of their students. Why? Because. FYI… “because” now passes as the full extent of logical rational debate at the university level. If that wasn’t enough, students now file complaints against professors when the effort put into completing an exam, a report, a project isn’t taken into consideration during marking. Meanwhile, in real life, no employer gives a rip how much time you spent on a project if the project fails, blows up, results in lost revenue, profits, or worse a critical client. Employers will fire you, not pat you on the back acknowledging effort, yet university students want to create a fantasy existence of coddling and pampering instead of accepting the challenge of rising to their ultimate potential.
How can anyone progress in life if they do not understand history, if they refuse to learn from the mistakes humanity has already made, if they fail to realize the errors they are making, fail to learn how to evaluate their thought process without bias? If you are incapable of reading history, learning from your own mistakes, receiving criticism, you cannot and will not progress in life. The outcome is that generations X thru Z will be doomed to repeat the errors of mankind, be it segregation, discrimination, genocide, even nuclear war. Will it be too late when they wake up and realize that they have only their own hypersensitivity, their own lack of emotional stability to blame? Who will they blame after a lifetime of blaming? Who will be their scapegoat? If reading material which has even a faint whiff of human life at extremes cannot be tolerated by the youth, if the truth of what humanity is capable of is feared, then our youth will be blind to it when it happens in their front yard, and too overwhelmed and shocked to do anything about it. Don’t believe its possible… ask the Germans how they erased the smell of burning human flesh rising from concentration camps that were in their front yard.
Today, we eliminate books – no different than the Nazis – to ensure mindlessness, yielding ignorance, sowing boundless arrogance because opinion is now taken as ‘truth’.
Today, we eliminate competition because our fragile youth cannot take on a physical or mental challenge as it risks their hyper-inflated egos driven to dizzying heights by helicopter parents to suffer even a modest bruising, or heaven forbid any amount of deflation.
We have eliminated the words wrong, error, and mistake from our vocabulary, because it may hurt someone’s feelings. By eliminating losing and failing, we have eviscerated success, achievement, victory. By denying that truth exists, we have replaced the process of learning with clique formation and opinions. So weak, so fragile, so feeble has the current generation become that teachers are forbidden from using red pens on assignment as it said to risk the destruction of a students self worth. Yet at some point this generation is going to be the grown ups? This generation is to grow up without ever being wrong, but is expected to lead the country as its politicians, its military generals, to become the professionals and business owners providing the products and services that are the economy of this country? Who are we kidding?
Instead of teaching stress management skills, and placing pain in context, we are turning our children, our teens, and ourselves into victims, where stress and pain are unequivocally wrong, are made forms of injustice requiring immediate restitution and compensation be made in full.
And we wonder… why oh why are we so unhealthy?
Delicate tree roots can grow to lift, shift, even break concrete sidewalks, but instead of raising our children to see themselves with similar potential, we rather deaden them removing any trace of obstacles, any possible challenge… and then we wonder why our youth show apathy, or violence, or an inability to sit still.
Maybe the confusion between what they are – children – and what they are being made out to be – automatons and eunuchs – is causing so much internal chaos that it can only erupt into external explosions that are diagnosed as syndromes requiring medical intervention. If we haven’t already turned childhood itself into a disease, then are we about to? If childhood – the period in which stress, pain and change are norms, the period where learning how to learn, where the process of how to evolve, to grow up – is dangerous, risky, then how and when will our children learn to be independent, self sufficient adults, leaders, visionaries, champions?
Instead of teaching our children that opportunity lies around every corner, we teach our children that danger lies crouching, waiting for the opportunity to leap out and grab them. If the world is so dangerous then how do we explain children who grow up in poverty, in broken homes, in violent homes, who lack basic necessities, yet become Olympians, top draft picks in the NBA, NFL, or NHL, business leaders, spiritual leaders? If life was nothing but danger, then it would be impossible for any child to rise from nothing, to accomplishing goals and achieving dreams that serve to inspire all alike.
Children are not born to avoid the stress and pain of growing up, they are born to rise above it, to learn, to strive, to reach, to take on stress and pain… starting right from the second of birth.