It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pause to Reflect

The global recession happening around us will leave very few people untouched, but rather than focus on the negative, there is an opportunity for people to make major shifts in their lives for the better.

From birth, we soon learn the words, "I want!" or "It's mine." Through our developing years we were rewarded by getting things. In adulthood we measured our success in terms of the stuff we have accumulated: like houses, cars, and electronics. But in truth our families have not prospered. Drug and alcohol use is problematic for many families; just as crime and violence has become the cultural norm in many of our communities.

Here in Godzone , New Zealand, young people are roughly divided into three categories; gang prospects, athletes, and victims. Although I live in a moderately affluent part of town, weekends are binges that see roving groups of drunken youth chasing the next event. Fights break open when these groups collide and generally the nights are occassioned by girls screaming and cars squeeling around town. Dogs bark and the sound of breaking glass and assaults on such things as street signs and mailboxes ring out.

I wonder how parents can sleep at night knowing their children are out there. Probably, they have become acclimatized to the whole scene and are generally content when the morning comes and their kids are back home. Two weeks ago there was an incident when one drunken teenage girl returned home in the company of three older boys at 3:00 in the morning. The mother came out and ordered her daughter inside the house. The daughter rained abuse at her mother who stepped in and grabbed her daughter. The daughter's screams prompted calls from to the local police, but as soon as they pulled up the daughter ran down the street in a great drama. She cried out for help to the police, saying her mother had assaulted her. The mother was arrested. I wonder where the father was?

As the economy forces us back to basic living, I hope many of us take a fresh look at our values and take stock of what is truly important. Family time and activities are generally cheaper than handing cash to the kids and telling them to have fun. At a time when stock dividends are becoming worthless, perhaps now is the time to invest back in our families.

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