In Which I Can’t Let Go of a Stupid Parade Magazine Article

So here is the point of my rant from yesterday; read it here.

There’s nothing wrong with Mitch Albom’s basic assertion, in and of itself. Overprogrammed kids? Not enough time for play and creativity? Cultivating the art of boredom? Playing outside and immersing oneself in the physical world? Please. No argument from me… though my friends and family in Texas, which is burning to a crisp right now, might have a quibble with the playing outside part.

No, what offends me is his suggested remedy: just send them outside. Unplug the cell phone. Just let them be kids. Maybe there are people out there for whom all that stands in the way of a 1950s lifestyle for their kids is one simple decision—to de-enroll them, fling wide the front door, turn on the sprinkler. But the reality is, we are all part of a system that makes such changes more complicated than a simple “Whoa, I’ve been looking at this all wrong. Course correction implemented.” That doesn’t let us off the hook from seeking the life we want to live. But it does mean that it’s never, ever as simple as so-called “experts” would like you to think.

And that’s what really bothers me on a deeper level. The world is simply too complex and calamitous for drivel like this article. We don’t have time for it, folks. It’s of a piece with “why don’t the poor just find jobs” and “drill baby drill.” If the solutions were easy enough to fit on a bumper sticker, we would have already implemented them.

This weekend I was at a training in which Einstein was quoted: “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Yet we seem unable or unwilling as a society, on the whole, to move into a new level of consciousness. I won’t comment on our political “leaders” in Congress except to say that whenever someone says “They’re acting like children” I think, “That is an insult to children.”

It is pretty discouraging. Einstein also apparently said, “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.”

However, Luther said when the world is falling apart, plant a tree, and that’s what I intend to do today.


7 thoughts on “In Which I Can’t Let Go of a Stupid Parade Magazine Article

  1. Bess says:

    I, too, have been contemplating this since I read your first blog post. Perhaps some of the question lies in the quality, rather than the quantity, of the “programs” for kids.

    For example, Girl Scout camp– yes, this summer my daughter spent two weeks at camp. But, during that time, she experienced the simplicity of nature, was entertained by nothing more than a campfire and some songs, and had down time to explore and rest and discover herself away from me and her familiar surroundings.

    Rather than wrestling with (or feeling guilty over) the amount of time that a child spends at camp, or in the care of another person, or in “programs”, perhaps parents should concentrate on finding the right fit of the time with their child. The reality of today’s society is that children will necessarily be in the care of others for a significant period of time, during the school year and during the summer. (And, I, for one, am happy that I have the opportunity to work and develop my professional and intellectual life outside of the home). But parents wishing for a “return to childhood” or as I tend to think of it, a state of simplicity for their children, should consider what types of experiences they wish for their child when outside of their own care.

    Again, this brings up issues of affordability, certainly, high quality care is expensive, and what is left for the children in our country in the most need often falls short of the ideal.

    But, in any case, for those of us with means, what is the best type of program for your child? A laid-back summer camp with plenty of time for self-discovery? A competitive music/art/sports camp with an emphasis on the performance/outcome? A preschool that focuses on “school-readiness” and places a premium on following directions? A learning center that emphasizes discovery and play in a rich environment?

    OK, off of my soap box…. I’m just considering my perspective on these thoughts…


  2. MaryAnn says:

    Great comment, Bess.

    I enjoy looking back on my childhood, and also hearing what things were like for folks who came of age before I did. But I also want to say to people, we will never, ever, go back to that time. I hear this in the church all the time. The 1950s and early ’60s are over. And they are never returning.

    Mamala posted something on her blog just now that referenced “nostalgia as a species of laziness” and I think that phrase is spot-on as it relates to dear Mitch.

  3. “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” Yet we seem unable or unwilling as a society, on the whole, to move into a new level of consciousness.”

    Love the quote. And since Einstein’s time – and prior – and since – and beyond our time – will more than likely apply.

    And moving beyond a currnet level of consciousness or way of doing/beingimagining is just what we are always challenged to do, in general – as people of faith, as educational institutions, etc. Cannot stay stuck. Must practice becoming unstuck. Repeat.

  4. Jan E. Lorah says:

    I think Billy Currington says it well: God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy!

  5. Mamala says:

    Didn’t you say this original column in Parade was by Mitch Albom. I like him a lot, but I think he’s trying to take over Andy Rooney’s spot in this culture. He’s made tons of money talking about simplicity, and how great it used to be. This isn’t a new idea, but all of us on overload sometimes gravitate toward it like the proverbial bug to the light. And, yes, your Uncle Ted is always right, as he sent me an email about your post and his PhDaughter’s comment which read: “If you need a reminder (or proof) that we raised smart women, read
    MA’s post and the comments:

  6. […] Oddly enough, it has a very similar message, with none of the plaintive, child-free cluelessness, as Mitch Albom’s call for someone to please think of the children! Which I railed on here and here. […]

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