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  • karen horst cobb: article: What Do You Tell Your Children

    Monday, November 06, 2006

    article: What Do You Tell Your Children

    Published on Saturday, November 4, 2006 by CommonDreams.org

    Timmy is old, Lassie is dead and parental wisdom is challenged. Many wondered aloud “What do you tell your children when stains on a blue dress and visits to the oval office were the topic of the nightly news. At the time it never occurred to me that these might be the easy topics. Now the reports are of government sanctioned torture, unprovoked war, pedophilia, oppressive work situations and an emerging police state? What do you tell your children?

    Our nation’s leaders have sanctioned the use of anal probes, simulated drowning, and the techniques of Tourqamada to maintain the American way of life? Countries with dictators used to be the ones who did horrendous things like this. I am at a loss to explain that hundreds of thousands of people in a far away country needed to die because Americans were afraid. My children were taught about the dynamics of the playground bully and the natural consequences of violence. But now bullying is national policy.

    What do you tell your children?

    Perhaps we could look toward a minister for direction or to a church group where we might find others challenged by this new America. Maybe here we can refocus and find sanctuary. Sadly, many pastors are silent on torture and war as they continue to preach a lucrative nationalized version of Christianity. The names of church leaders too are added to the growing list of sexual predators and the resulting cover-ups.

    What do you tell your children?

    The traditional right of passage is announced with, “mom I got a job!” and then the details start to unfold. He will be paid 5.50 an hour but he needs to buy two 14 dollar company tee shirts and a 9 dollar cap with the store’s logo on it. The cost will be deducted from his first paycheck. If he works hard and excels there is a good chance one of his co-workers will be fired and he will be doing the work of two employees for one wage.

    What do you tell your children?

    Several months from now he may announcement that he made “manager.” only to discover that he is now the “manager “of his mop. The title assures that legally his employer does not have to pay him overtime. What wisdom will I give if my children are offered contracts with pension plans? How should they handle fraud or dishonesty in light of the new whistleblower laws. How long will it be before my last son discovers that no matter how hard he works or how good his monthly evaluations are “corporate” sees him as something easier to replace then a damaged floor tile.

    What do you tell your children?

    I try to explain that we elect people to speak up for us in Washington who can introduce legislation and vote for change. This hopefulness is tempered when we talk about the power of K street, industry executives appointed to regulations positions, corporate financing of political campaigns, bribery, kickbacks, earmarks and international corporations which benefit form war.

    What do you tell your children?

    We talk about the free press and the freedom to peaceably assemble. The free speech zones with police in riot gear, men in dark glasses and ear pieces reading tee shirts and bumper stickers suggest this is not really the case. A six year old in his superman pj’s is patted down by TSA officers and his grandma is taken aside for questioning. When my oldest children were this age I told them that they did not need to be afraid of the police if they didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t think I can say that now.

    What do you tell your children?

    There were many social inequities in the “good old days” of Timmy and Lassie but there was a common dream of a better world. There was a dream of a future without war. Patriotism was a consequence our aspirations to higher ethical standards. We were a community and we cared about each other. Timmy was never strip searched and Lassie was not ordered by the dog catcher to be kept on a leash. No one in his town was “disappeared.” There were no armed guards in fatigues at the Founders Day Parade.

    What do I tell my children?
    I tell them it is morally wrong to support, order or carry out orders to torture and it is wrong to stand by in silence while others do. I tell them it is wrong to kill or solve problems with violence. I tell them that Jesus came to demonstrate a better way than money and power. I encourage them to seek a spiritual community. I tell them to work hard but set limits so they are not taken advantage of. I teach them to be thoughtful of their co-workers and work as a team. I teach them to make their voice heard and speak truth.

    I tell them. “Timmy is old, Lassie is dead and Superman can’t find a phone booth” so you have to do what you can.

    Go Vote!


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