Nebraska's Children of Desperation
This story has been sitting on my heart for a while now. I just never could figure out how to approach it. I still don't, really.
My parents used the belt on me. They kept me in line. They spoke at all the right times and the used the belt at all the right times. I adhered to good Christian values. I adhered to values of honor. From there, I got my work ethic, my love of people and systems, my analytical mind, and my writing ability (because when you are sat down a lot for lessons and lectures, you tend to notice narrative structure). I was raised well and I've said often that I would raise my children the same way my parents raised me (which is something I don't hear a lot of people say about their parents).
God blessed me with my parents and the rest of my family. I know this more and more everyday, especially when I keep reading about desperate families across this nation who feel they have no options. Maybe we can blame Maury Povich for steadily moving away from the "kids in boot camp and prison" episodes and more of the "is you my baby daddy?" episodes. Maybe we can blame the government for not investing more in the public schools. Maybe we can blame the media for piping violent imagery and negative values into young minds. Maybe we can blame video games that demoralize and dehumanize America's youth. Maybe we can blame parents who are apathetic to their children and probably had no business having kids in the first place. Or maybe... just maybe... we could blame a society that isn't noticing this crumbling infrastructure that is the family.
As time has gone on, our society has developed an ideology of isolationism. The village is no longer raising the child but pull off a belt in a K-Mart and someone's got something to say. This generation is the result of a generation who wanted to not have to be so hard on their kids. It's the result of a generation that was reeling from it's own parents, parents who endured the hardship of economic squalor and war. So the Boomers were rough on the Joneses. The Joneses were soft on the X-ers and Y-ers, who now have a sense of entitlement. And the community that was united in hardship steadily deteriorates in the ongoing times of plenty.
In Nebraska, we see the result. Thirty-five children were just so bad, no one knew what to do, at least not their parents. No one knows if the thirty-five communities that surrounded these children even knew if there was a problem. No one stuck a nose in, or took them to the school of hard knocks, or took off their own belts (surely not that, it wouldn't be apropos). So thirty-five families fled in desperation to the center of our country and ditched their kids. Not heartlessly, not without solemnity, but certainly feeling this was a last ditch effort (no pun intended).
In the face of a new America, one that must endure such hardship, perhaps we won't cordon ourselves off like we did before. Perhaps the notion of community will return, and maybe our children won't fall through the cracks as much anymore.