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Pssst: You May be Raising a Coward…

Harsh title, huh? If it caught your attention then it worked. Before I go on a tangent let me get to the point I want to make…

I always have the television playing in the background as I do school, writing, beat-making, etc. To avoid being distracted I keep the channel tuned to some form of news; either Al Jazeera America (when the channel is working properly) or one of the CNN networks. I don’t expect Turner’s brainchild to inform me of anything, but I did learn something today: parents are raising a generation of cowards.

Let me explain. I’m 27, so I grew up in the Columbine era. We were the first generation of students who had to endure frequent bomb or shooter threats, and I can attest to the fact that most parents and students didn’t take them very seriously. But do you know what else we had? Fights.

That’s right, teenagers fought. It wasn’t daily and it never warranted medical attention,  but it still happened. And nobody shot or stabbed anyone. Some were suspended (fairly), others expelled (in my opinion unnecessarily), but it never escalated beyond fists and feet. This brings me to the point of this piece: when aggression has to be suppressed it becomes almost inevitable that it will resurface in an explosive manner.

Teenagers are insane. I can say that because 8 years ago I was one of them. They’re irrational, hormonal, aggressive, and unpredictable. And while we try to create this politically correct society where nobody gets their feelings hurt, we’ve boxed these teens into a corner. It’s human nature to be defensive or aggressive if threatened, and no time in life feels more stressful (and thereby threatening) than those awkward teenage years.

Violence isn’t good, and I don’t want to give the impression I approve of unwarranted violence. Here’s the thing though; I grew up taking martial arts,  and fighting (full contact sparring) was essential. Did I assault people without cause or resort to violence at any opportunity? No. But the fact I had an outlet to release physical aggression is the reason why. Knowing this, it seems illogical to have zero tolerance policies that cause teens to be arrested for simple fist fights.

Sure, it’s disruptive. But do you realize what you do to the future of that teen when you arrest and prosecute them for a small fist fight where no great bodily injury occurred? You just made them a violent criminal, and if you charge them as an adult then you’ve effectively ensured that they will have to consider a life of crime due to a simple physical altercation.

Kids who have an outlet are never the ones who commit mass shootings or stabbings. We tell adults never to bottle their emotions because it can have tragic consequences,  yet we force kids and teens to do exactly that. A fight is not an indicator of an emotional problem, but suppressing mild aggression until it boils over into homicidal rage is certainly an issue.

Give them an outlet. Add boxing or mma to the available sports for high school students if fiscally possible. Or just use common sense. A few punches should not have lifelong ramifications. And I can guarantee you that if students were punished proportionally for altercations you would see a major drop in serious violence like stabbings and shootings. Let them work it out, suspend them, but don’t expel or arrest a teen for throwing a punch. Sometimes getting your ass kicked is a great way to learn how to talk to or treat people, especially if you get your ass kicked for treating someone poorly.

There has to be a better answer than zero tolerance. It ruins lives, and fuels into the paranoia and hostility that dominates our society. I’ve met plenty of people who have never been in or around a physical altercation,  and many of them share a common trait: they don’t follow the golden rule. While being punched in the face isn’t an ideal learning tool, I promise you never forget the reason why you were punched: usually for disrespecting or demeaning someone.

If we don’t find a balance between “keeping the peace” and letting the youth learn through experience,  we will continue to see more and more deadly youth violence. Stop bottling their aggression and they’ll stop exploding. If we don’t address this issue and make serious change, we will have an entire generation of paranoid cowards who would rather pull a trigger than take an ass whipping that they probably deserve. And I assure you, we’ve all deserved to be punched in the face at one point….

The plane boss, the plane!

First, if you’re the type who’s easily offended then this isn’t for you. I’m sure there’s a Honey Boo Boo or Duck Dynasty episode airing right now that is more suited to your level of cognitive response. Bleeding hearts? Google some cute cat pics rather than read this. Are the children gone? Good. Now we can talk.

I do not care about this missing plane, nor should you. What’s going on in the world? Well, the Ukraine situation is pretty significant.  As is every other ongoing civil crisis occurring on our planet at this moment. Government agencies are intercepting your Amazon shipments to install hardware to violate your fourth amendment rights, the Federal Reserve just allegedly acquired the gold reserves of Ukraine (after destabilizing the area, then sending a former banking cartel elite to be an influential part of the temporary Crimean government), and politicians on both sides of the aisle are working to strip your liberty and further entrench you in debt. Yet what has CNN covered for the last ten full days? A foreign plane, filled with all foreigners but for one American,  that somehow is missing. Why?

Does this plane affect you? Not I. Do you know any of the missing passengers? I don’t. We turn a blind eye to legitimate atrocities on a consistent basis; children forced into becoming soldiers all across regions of Africa, drone strikes killing hundreds of civilians per instance, and highly erratic weather while our Muppet-esque politicians deny climate change. Banks are charging you more than ever to access your own hard earned money,  antibiotic-resistant diseases are popping up on most continents, and police have been given free reign to abuse and kill as they see fit.

With all of these pertinent issues in the realm of public discussion, why are we given a meaningless distraction rather than useful information?  It’s hard not to be a “conspiracy theorist” when all signs point to a systematic dumbing down of our society.  If terrorists had hijacked that plane we would know; terrorism is our government’s favorite word/scapegoat. They blame terrorists for everything they possibly can. No explanations,  no rationalization: if something bad happened, just say it was an act of terror. (By the way, using terrorism as a fear mechanism is the dictionary definition of terrorism: it’s so ironic it’s infuriating.)

So give us something we truly need to know. Stop pandering to the lowest/dumbest common denominator and give us useful information. How can the populace make informed,  intelligent judgments about the state of affairs in the world if we’re missing chunks of the truth? It needs to stop. Journalists and journalistic integrity are not dead; they’ve just been stripped down and swept under the rug. Stop catering to those who are too ignorant to understand complex geopolitical issues and give us the facts. We’re (mostly) adults, we can handle it. But for the love of all that is good and pure, shut the hell up about this plane until all of the facts are available.

Why So Serious?

         Last year Americans furiously argued over the Trayvon Martin murder case. This wasn’t a fluke, this wasn’t a one-off  occurrence, this was a sign of a growing trend: people are afraid of the youth. I first thought that the epidemic of violence that is growing in our nation was one of income inequality, racial division, or some other complicated issue that has no direct answers. No, that’s not the case. As it turns out, people my own age (a ripe old 27) or younger are viewed as a threat by the older generations. Sometimes this is because of racial fears, sometimes inequality, but it always involves age differences.

        This week CNN has been covering another murder that centered around “stand your ground”, age difference, and race difference. This one is another case in Florida, the one about the SUV full of teens being shot at (and one being killed) by an older man of another race; all because the older man ordered the teens to turn down their music. Really? I hate country music, but I’ve never considered opening fire over the volume of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie.” This case is already becoming a beacon for race-baiting, and the discussion will soon decline into stereotypes and name calling, much like the Trayvon case. But what is causing this newly discovered problem? Why are people so quick to shoot at others over minor disagreements? I blame the media.

      The media centers around negativity and conflict. A good day for society is a bad day for the news, because they won’t have anything to talk about. So when controversy arises, rest assured that national media will be here to give you the impression that everyone is shooting everyone else. Our murder rates in this country aren’t rising exponentially; they’re only increasing proportionally as the population grows. Why is violence such an easy answer to problems? Are men afraid to show any emotion other than rage? Are the youth really THAT dangerous where any disagreement must end in gunfire? It makes no sense.

      The answer? I don’t have one, nor do any of the media outlets. Maybe if we raise the next generation to embrace peace as their only option people won’t fear each other so much. Perhaps if we tell people it’s ok to show emotion and discuss their problems people will stop pointing fingers and pulling triggers. Maybe. Perhaps. I don’t know why everyone is so skittish these days, nor do I know why grown men are so afraid of young people that they feel the need to defend themselves when there is no threat present. What’s more, I don’t understand why  fisticuffs  aren’t the final solution rather than deadly weapons. If you’re going to act irrationally and attack someone, the least you can do is NOT try to kill them with a weapon.

     I don’t like fear, and I don’t believe it has a place in a civilized society. We have plenty of things to legitimately fear: climate change, nuclear war, chemical attacks, financial crisis. I don’t want to walk the streets armed because I have to assume everyone else is packing, and I don’t want to live in a world where kids and teenagers have to fear every adult (especially ones outside their race) they encounter. I’m not a parent, I’m not a politician, and I’m not a cop. I can only do what’s right for myself and try not to be a problem for anyone I encounter. If people could think of their own loved ones every time they consider using lethal force in a disagreement, perhaps they’d be less eager to pull a trigger and extinguish a life. Not everyone wants to hurt you, not everyone outside your race is a bigot, and not every confrontation must end in violence. Why so serious America?