I’ve always been saddened by the title of the Don Henley song “The End of the Innocence”.
I guess when I was growing up and in my single days, innocence was a passing phase, a “nice” concept that quickly went past its “best before” date and became a non-essential in our lives. Which teenager actually “wants” or preserves, innocence? Not many, I am thinking…
Now, as a parent, the idea of innocence has taken on a far more meaningful – and fragile – dimension. Everybody knows that children are innocent – unaware of guile and subterfuge, and with their fairy-tale view of the world unsoiled by harsh experience, disappointment or pain. Innocence is sacrosanct, precious.
I think that is why we react so strongly to innocence stolen – through child abuse, or family violence, and the like. World-wide, society and individuals react with outrage to the premature demise of innocence. And this is good. Long may we do that and hopefully our consciences and sense of right and wrong will not become dulled by the incessant creep of societies calloused and rough desire for the early onset of maturity (usually fuelled by someone’s ability to make money out of it!).
But what bothers me deeply is a generally untroubled attitude – not to the theft of innocence – but to the LOSS of it. We strongly protect innocence from theft, but not from erosion! It troubles me that we are adverse to it being stolen away, and even on occasion struggle up out of our armchairs to protest or voice concern, but are apathetic and ok with its increasingly earlier and earlier “loss” by erosion. Why is that? Innocence gone, is innocence gone. By any means, it is the same!
Is it because there is no-one particular to blame? No obvious face of evil? Surely we are not only motivated when there is someone specific to blame? It would seem to me that a faceless evil is far worse than an identifiable one! Yet we react the complete opposite to the faceless evils of society…we give them freedom to influence and act!
Maybe it is that a faceless evil requires us to be thinkers and communicators, able to distill and synthesise, quantify and express the REASON for our anger, but if we can point at an evil person, we can get by on raw emotion alone? Are we really so lazy?
Adverts and magazine covers, that portray 10 year olds as sexually mature women, for example. Cartoons that glorify violence and physical supremacy over everything. Children’s programmes that entrench a disrespect for adults, and learning, and manners, and kindness?
I believe that the defence of innocence starts in our homes. Do we buy that magazine, and then leave it around for young ones to see? That’s a failure on two counts.
Internet access at home. Where is our computer? In a room, with a door, where children can surf alone, or in a public place where someone can always be passing by? How are those parental controls doing? Is the occasional blocked website too much of an inconvenience to us, to protect our children from porn? Thanks to a great article on these dangers, ours is now in a corner of the lounge. The opportunity to protect our children from these influences will only come once.
Us dads, how’s our clothing? How do we dress at home? Are the doors closed when they should be? Or does our young daughter know more than she should at her age, about the male body? And vice versa for sons and mothers.
What’s on TV? A cartoon nowadays is not just a cartoon. Have we parents checked for spiritual content and violence levels? For the tone of voice and respect for others that is perpetuated by the characters in cartoons, as well as in normal TV programming? What do we allow into our home? Is there any kind of filter, on the “sewer” in the corner of the lounge?
Our daughter’s innocence should be OUR highest priority. Our son’s innocence should be PARAMOUNT. There is a time and a place for learning new things, things that introduce more adult views and understandings to our young children. There is no day or place on earth where I want that to be decided for me. Until the foundations are firmly laid, and cast in immovable stone, and my children have discernment of their own, this is MY territory.
As a father, I stand over these issues for my family. Join me. Let’s stand for our families.