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Growing Up, How Do We Measure Up?

Updated on January 5, 2012
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As we age, the world looks at us differently and has different expectations of us. However, and perhaps because of those outside forces, we also look at both ourselves and the world differently. The real problem is in reconciling the two: who was right and who was wrong, and when? As we grow up, our values change, but who knows if what we're giving up was the truth in exchange for a compromised reality, or whether everything we learn as a child was make-believe and the new reality the only truth?

As children, we are taught to behave and get along with each other, perhaps an extension of the teacher as babysitter. The adults want everything to run as smoothly as possible, and well-behaved children are just one less thing to worry about. Whether or not we adhere to these golden rules taught to us early on is anyone's guess. If we did, there certainly would be less crime in the world. There would be no war, and everyone would share their resources and help those in need without expecting too much in return. However, as an adult I can safely say the world doesn't operate that way. It would be nice if it did, but it doesn't, and at this point we can't expect it to. This brings me to the dilemma I have: how do we reconcile the so-called golden rules with the harsh reality of the world around us?

If you're familiar with the cartoon Codename: Kids Next Door, you will understand the concept that children, teens, and adults are at mock-war with each other (that in the cartoon is, to a point, very real). As certain kids age, they feel that the rules of childhood no longer apply to them and decide to turn evil. Not all adults are evil in the show (others are just absent or incompetent), but evil is typically associated with adulthood (an evolved form of childhood brattiness) and begins at the age of thirteen when Kids Next Door agents usually get drummed out of the organization with their memories erased. This is an extreme example of the problem I'm trying to illustrate, except for the fact that they never seem to try to solve it. I, on the other hand, would like some answers.

We can't have it both ways. You can either teach your children to be wary of the world from an early age, or you can fill them with hope that may one day turn out to be false depending on the way things are when they come of age. Ideally, we should be able to teach our children to be model citizens and stick to the golden rules, but we as adults must follow them as well and never fall into "do as I say, not as I do" territory. Life is life, however, and we cannot live without facing both frivolity and cruelty. They exist simultaneously and can strike at any individual of any age at any given moment. That being said, we should each do our part not to be corrupted by forces that threaten to undermine the lessons we learned to abide and pledged to keep to on a lifelong basis. We have to care. Future generations need us to care and to set an example they can follow. We cannot falter in this noble pursuit, otherwise future generations will see the anomaly and become even more messed up than the current ones. We cannot let them grow up only to have their hearts encased in stone like those of the adults who unfeelingly give in to their unreasonable, unconscionable urges of greed that are ripping apart the fabric of society.

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