The Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2006, edition of the Roundup had a pair of contrasting items in it that made me think.
One was a front-page story about Christmas displays that were vandalized at night. It was easy to read shock and sadness into the words of Dee Payne, one of the victims, as she described the loud pop she heard when one of the vandals destroyed a large inflatable Santa Claus against her front door.
"They had to come up in the walkway to get close to him," Payne said. Note that word "him." It tells you how she felt about the jolly old Santa she had put there for all to enjoy.
The vandalism was almost certainly the work of youngsters, who sometimes just don't seem to care how much they hurt someone. It's hard to understand that kind of attitude, but I recently read something that may help to explain -- not excuse -- such things as that vandalism and the recent cat-killings. It's from a book by noted anthropologist Carleton S. Coon. In "The Hunting Peoples," he explains why today's youth sometimes run off the track.
I'll paraphrase what he said.
Unlike earlier times, when children grew up working side by side with their parents, today's children do not see enough of their mothers or fathers for them to be role models. Therefore, they take their role models from the micro-society in which they live -- their peers. They often follow others who are wild, unsympathetic, and daring. Professor Coon said that if we don't do something to halt the growing gap between each successive generation, then someday, far out in the desert, a few families of hunters and gatherers may meet, and ask one another, "Where did the white man go?"
A sobering vision of the future.
Thankfully, the other item that caught my eye that day was a letter to the editor written by Diana Rene McNeish about her next door neighbor, Richard A. Bowers.
Diana is in her 40s and Richard in his 80s, and though Diana said very little about herself, her letter describes a person in need, and another person who gives unstintingly of himself. I feel proud to breathe the same air as someone like Richard Bowers, and have no doubt that my feelings were shared by every person who read that letter.
Now, having given some thought to each of those items, let's give a little thought to something else.
If your children aren't like you, it may be because they don't know you. Yes, it may take a little extra time on a busy day to go outside and kick a ball around with the kids, and, yes, it may seem a bit hokey to take one of your kids to work with you, and, yes, a classroom visit may cost you a day's wages, but what you do, or don't do, regarding your children is a large part of what molds their character.
So take your choice: Vandals who care about no one except themselves or children who absorb your principles from you and perhaps live into ripe old age, living by them.