WHY I DISAGREE WITH SOME PRACTICES OF 4-H
Teaching impressionable youth the WRONG message
WHY I QUESTION 4-H
I know that I will insult and infuriate some readers. I bet there will be those who cannot fathom the fact that the esteemed 4-H would generate a negative article. How in the world could anyone possibly dislike such an American institution? Well, I am about to tell you!
Below is a copy of the 4-H Code or Standard. The 4 H’s stand for Head, Hands, Heart and Health. It is the Heart which I wish to address. “I Pledge my Heart to greater loyalty .” I have emphasized ‘greater loyalty’ for a very specific reason. Youngsters; children are taught to do absolutely the opposite of loyalty in their 4-H activities. Case in point: A child is given or purchases a young animal for his/her 4-H project (the end of which results in the predetermned end of life for that animal). For months following acquisition of the "project livestock," the child rears that young animal. Giving shelter, food, grooming and attention to health; the child cares for this animal. During such a time, a bond is created; a dependency and expectations based on a growing relationship and history between the two. It is the child’s duty to make sure the animal is well cared for, leaving no room for neglect or abuse. This encourages the young person to learn responsibility as well as respect for the living being he/she has taken on. There is a sense of loyalty, as the animal does not want for those things which are necessary to live a good, healthy life. This goes on for months and months: bathing, feeding, grooming, worrying over, in essence….CARING for that animal; that life.
Then, the fateful time arrives. Time to “learn to be an adult, learn how to earn money !!” What happens now? The impressionable, ‘responsible’ youth is about to, is EXPECTED to commit the ultimate betrayal. After building a kinship with his charge, the child is now to turn his back on his friend; sell this friend to the highest bidder. For money. To “learn” how to follow through to the ‘end of sale;' a sale which ends in death…the death of a trusting dependant. An animal who, for all intents and purposes, ‘looked upon his young cargiver as a nurturer; a ‘parent.’
Sadly, the parent figure has become the enemy. Little does the subject know just what is in store. Butchery!
We, as a society, are losing grasp of any kind of sensitivity, any depth of true character, any expression of loyalty to one another or the greater world around us. We are teaching our young people to turn their backs on those who depend upon them; on those who were raised to trust. We are pushing our youngsters to ignore feelings, deny heartfelt sorrow at the loss of a companion. We tell them it a part of “growing up.” There’s no crying in 4-H! You must ‘buck up.’ Become “a man” and, in today’s world…”a woman!” It goes without question that taking life is a legitimate part of ‘growing up.’ And making money!!! (Remember...in today's world; this is no longer <nor should it be> considered a 'necessity.' Once, in our agrarian history; we were more dependent upon "livestock." Today, we know better...it is a choice, not a necessity).
This is a sad commentary about our value of life. Some life is meant to end for our idea of adulthood. Some life is expendable if we think we can gain from that death. This is the penultimate expression of human arrogance! And we are feeding this attitude to our sensitive, impressionable youngsters. And we think it’s “OK!”
It is impossible to understand how creating a cold, unfeeling child who develops into a colder, emotionally crippled adult inspires that person to “…better living for my Club, my Community, my country and my world.” It just does not equate!
THE 4-h CREDO:
The 4-H Clover symbolizes four actions
which 4-H members try to accomplish. The
four H s' stand four Head, Hands, Heart,
Health, as it is in the pledge. I Pledge My Head
to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty,
My Hands to lager service and My Health to
better living for my Club my Community my
Country and my World.
4-H Shooting Sports - Program Procedures
Shooting sports, from archery to hunting, are a fun and educational way to engage youth. The policies and procedures to lead a safe shooting sport project are found in this manual.
The above “Program Procedure” is the second item I wish to address. Why do we feel is is just fine and dandy to convince our kids that “shooting sports, from archery to hunting, "are a fun and educational way to engage youth.” ??? Can we really defend this practice? In order to communicate with, relate to the younger generation, we must encourage them to kill animals for fun and sport? Are we really this insensitive, unfeeling; barbaric? Has any consideration been given to the object destined to lose life while this “fun and educational” activity is occurring? Again, 4-H is placing children in the path of death and destruction rather than teaching morals, true responsibility, accountability, and instilling a regard for life. Rather, kids are instructed to pick up weapons and seek targets to kill. Who cares if that “target” has a life of it’s own, has preferences, makes choices and rears young ones just as we do? Who cares if that life just might have the right to exist? To live out that life in the wild? No, we superior humans do not care about this! All we appear to relate to is the TAKING of LIFE for our own entertainment, sport, lack of anything “better” to do…in essence, ennui and boredom being replaced with bloodlust. (I have a constructive suggestion: How about picking up a CAMERA to "shoot" the target?)
Any adult who teaches a child to kill is an irresponsible, inadequate parent who is teaching the devaluation of life, while encouraging aggression, as well as instilling the lessening of feeling and along with developing in the child a predatory nature. This is neither healthy nor kind; it is barbarism at it’s worst.