Thursday, May 07, 2009

in which she worries about the future

last night, we got home from playing cards with friends and started flipping through channels, as one does. we landed on an episode of law & order: SVU which featured a former IRA terrorist who had gone mercenary and was working for columbian drug lords since he was trained to kill and there wasn't so much killing to do anymore in ireland. so, very uplifting, as you might imagine, but a notch above the documentary on schools in germany which were training little super nazis in the years leading up to and during WWII that was on DR2.  during the commercials, husband was flipping to BBC world, where they were talking about years of strife in the congo on hardtalk. reminders of mubuto sese seko and laurent kabila and now his son flashed across the screen. why didn't i just walk away and curl up with mma ramotswe, you ask?

good question.

i sat watching these programs and i began to get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. i was glad sabin had fallen asleep and wasn't watching that kind of stuff. and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach was for her sake. because sometimes i it makes me really ill to imagine the world she will inherit. what are we doing to our planet and ourselves? and are we just sitting here, letting it happen, as we watch it all unfold on t.v.?

there was a news recap on BBC during one of the breaks and they very dramatically and with a tone of indignation reported that russia had kicked out a couple of canadian diplomats from NATO offices in moscow. of course they did, that kind of thing happens all the time and the dudes were probably spies. which, if the editor choosing that story and the angle for that story had the slightest modicum of historical knowledge, would have been obvious. and then they would have realized it was actually really rather a non-story.

and this caused me to think of an article in information the other day about how few danish politicians (20%) think that studying the humanities (including history) is important. maybe i'm a bit touchier about this than most because i actually have a master's degree in humanities, but i think it's important to mankind's ability to sort out the world around us and make the right decisions. decisions of all kinds--but especially decisions relating to governing and how we treat one another and the planet (which cannot be done without governments cooperating). but we can't negotiate the waters as is necessary if we have no historical, sociological, cultural knowledge/background--all of which come from the humanities. it's good for us to read the classics and the so-called great books. it equips us with the necessary tools to think about things and sort them out and analyze and make good decisions. even editorial decisions like about whether it's a big deal or not that russia kicks out a couple of canadian diplomats.

and i worry that the world that sabin is inheriting isn't going to have people who are able to do that. i mean, if it's this bad now, how much worse will it get? where are the great thinkers today? the great ideas? the great philosophers? the great writers? as much as i respect and even like a guy like thomas friedman, who is arguably a public intellectual on the scene today, he's no kirkegaard. where are the people of that caliber today? where is today's dostoevsky? or voltaire? or byron? or thomas jefferson? where are the great men and women? instead we've got britain's got talent and madonna trying to adopt a kid in malawi and some asshole reporter asking some stupid football player what he thinks about climate change. we're asking all of the wrong people the wrong questions.

i want to shelter sabin from it, to keep that balloon before her face--so that what she knows is joy and laughter and all of the colorfulness there is in the world. but i know that balloon will rise and she'll have to face the mess we've left her with. and that just makes me feel sick to my stomach.

sorry for this uncharacteristically somber post, it's been grey and dreary all week and the world just gets me down sometimes.


Molly said...

Ugh, tapping into every parent's concern right there. Can you imagine all that compounded by a scary crime rate right here where my child lives? It really is the kind of situation in which it seems one can only stay sane if you pretend the problems don't exist. Thereby arguably compounding the problem...
You're spot on about the humanities angle. I think the main problem is that we all increasingly live just for ourselves, with so little bigger picture analysis or often concern for how our choices affect others. This is definitely true for impoverished and desperate people, but I think it's true of 'nice' education middle-class people too.
And that is the attitude which is going to fk us all.
Happy thoughts!

Anonymous said...

i woke up to local papers carrying news of of a group of paedophiles in our town - some of whom had been working as teachers in schools. i worry about what happens to my kids between the time I leave them at the school gates and pick them back up afterwards.

naqiubex said...

Hi, I've been following your blog for awhile. I'm still a student and thinking what the world going to be in the future does comes to my mind a lot.
You're right about T.vs and medias always trying to playin with us and gives us too much entertainment!
Sad that stories about actors and musicians are given more priority than great thinkers nowadays. The media will always highlight celebrities such as britney talking about humanity than listening to a professor on that subject.
It makes the kid have the wrong figure to be influenced by.
Anyway, lets just do our best to change the world for a better place!

Polly said...

Ah, I keep thinking about this too! I have postgrad degree in history, I read one book a week, I read poetry and I don't own a tv set and for all those reasons I often feel like an odd ball. A friend of mine who works in publishing said noone would ask me to take part in a market research when introducing a new magazine or newspaper because I'm odd...

People don't have so much time to think these days. Many ancient crafts - like piano playing - are slowly dying out because they require a lot of attention and slow progress and that's not the way we live nowadays... at this stage I'm curious where the world is gonna go from here.

Extranjera said...

But at least we know that there is a problem and can choose. Like Polly chooses to have no TV. Like you can choose what to read into a piece of 'information' on the news/twitter.
It is truly disheartening to see the people Molly mentions, the impoverished and desperate, to not get that choice.

Off into the real world now. Do I dare?

Unknown said...

You know what I think about this. It's so easy to be overcome with fear. Watching or reading the news really makes me feel so hopeless. I can't imagine how scary it must be when you have a child. It's important to remember that they only highlight the negative, because good news is normally no news, good news don't sell.
It worries me too that common sense and basic culture and education seem so scarce this days, and it's all down to bad education systems, where humanities don't have a place anymore.
Oh, dear, I'm depressed now!

julochka said...

i think we're gonna have to ditch the t.v.

but then how will we play our Wii?

maybe we'll just ditch the cable so we don't get any channels.

but then there would still be all those newspapers they bring ever morning.

sorry to have brought everyone else down with me. :-) i'd be ok again if the sun would just shine.

Tara Thayer said...

Somber, indeed.
Sounds like I won't be ostracized here if I say it: NO TV. None.
For you, for her. Rent some movies, for gosh sakes. And even then...
But these two pictures are incredible, Julie. Classic. Perfect. I love them.
Sweet girl.

d smith kaich jones said...

Where is today's Thomas Jefferson? No doubt taking part in tea party protests, while the real Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave.


Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a while Im a mother of a 1 year old boy so I know your feelings and concerns regarding the news now a days, but just like B said the only highlighted news are the negatives because GOOD news doesn't sell.. it only proof that there is only FEW good people left living in this planet.
to be sure I'm one them. :-)

Trina Y. said...

See my post today! I think it will uplift you a bit! And I would send you some Arizona sunshine if I could! Here it is (suuuuunnnn for you) have a great day!

Kikit said...

This post reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Life is Beautiful. As you have probably watched, it's a story of a father who used his imagination up to his last breath to help his son survive the war.

At the end of the story, the son was reunited with his mother when the war was over. Though the father was killed, we can say that he had creatively and successfully kept the balloon before his son's eyes.

But it was a movie and your post is about reality. A movie inspires, reality bites.

Bee said...

I love the way you bookend these thoughts with the magical pictures of Sabin.

I agree with what you say, and often think similar thoughts . . . but sometimes things do change for the better. Last night I went to a Julia Fordham concert, and she sang a song called "Happy Ever After" that she wrote about apartheid in South Africa. Sometimes we do make baby steps of progress . . . think of how awful racism used to be in the U.S., for goodness sake.

As for philosophers, so many of my blog-friends are inspiring thinkers. xx

Janet said...

Ditto to everything you said Julochka. I have grandchildren - 2 1/2 years old, and 9 months old. And I work for our police department. It is a toss up - like Polly, I try as much as I can to ignore it. But I can't ignore all the ugliness of reality or I wouldn't be good at all at my job. I do believe, to a degree anyway, that there is much more goodness in the world than we're lead to believe. It's just not in the headlines everyday. I share your sentiments and concerns.

Jelica said...

I often find myself thinking the same, but isn't that the curse of all parents in all times? Just imagine what our grandparents must have thought about the world in which they were raising their children, right after the WWI. Or during Cold War. Although, admittedly, they didn't have to worry about climate change. We've inherited their problems and added lots of ours, unfortunately.

Snap said...

You are right on the money ... the more history, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, even art ... one has, the better one can understand! I've been looking for the *great thinkers*, too. Are they out there somewhere or have we *dumbed down* society so much that even the great ones are gone ... or afraid to come out? !!! Guess you found me on one of my pedestals, ranting, with your post!

Laura Doyle said...

While I am sulky that you have many comments on the subject I wrote about in which I got only 2, it perfectly illustrates why I was sulky to begin with. I people really care as much as they say they do if collectively, they/we are the very same people that through inaction and lack of thinking and lack of participation, have allowed the world to come to this point?

Very misanthropic comment, I know. Sorry...still a bit sulky I guess, although the ginger cookies did make it a little better. : ) On a brighter note, read what Gregg Braden has to say about our planetary position in the galaxy and why everything is so miserable. Fortunately, we're heading into brighter days. : )

Cyd said...

If only more people were sickened to think about the world their children will inherit. Then perhaps they would be moved enough to do something to fix it?

will said...

The idealism of the 1960s was partly the result of a huge push by WWII vets to attend colleges and schools. Governments and universities responded with a terrific expansion of new schools with diverse subject matter.

Since the 1980s we've experienced a reverse trend. Lower schools and colleges have been cutting their programs and in many ways, abandoning the open-ended concept of a "well rounded, liberal education".

Besides becoming almost too expensive for middle class parents, today's universities have evolved towards being fancy trade schools.

Students are rushed through four year programs with majors that are specifically targeted for employment - such as, IT, programmers, business, etc.

Liberal arts classes - arts, sociology, etc. are minimized and no longer main stream.

In the 1960s it was a common practice to have campus-wide seminars on philosophy, civil rights, psychology, etc but today's seminars are those that feature business leaders, entrepreneurs and technical success stories.

Now, factor in global trends of over population, right wing governments, reactionary religions and aggressive militarism and it is not difficult imagining a grim near future experience.

tangobaby said...

this may be a grey post but it's far more interesting... every era has probably seemed like it was a decline from the one that preceeded it and corruption and cruelty and lack of education is endemic in all societies in all times.

however, people have the choice to act and think for themselves and this has also happened throughout history and for the good of others, in all times.

of course we can point fingers and try to figure out the causes, but this issue will probably never die as long as humans populate this planet. however, I do fully support your ditching your television as a step in the right direction!

Ady Grafovna said...

Maybe the great thinkers of today will not be recognized until tomorrow. Maybe they are there, just hidden. Maybe...

MissUnderstood said...

Its true, so true....what is our world becoming? I don't even think most people take the time to reflect on what you have. So although reading the classics as you have suggested may be a great idea (a fantastic one if you ask me)...I think that if we had more people in the world who would take the time to contemplate the moment like you may start the ripple of change to happen....IDK...thats just my wishful thinking on the subject lol...thanks for the insight though :)

Pattern and Perspective said...

I hear your pain. I worry a lot about the world and the tube it seems to be going down. I used to think my mother was crazy, getting upset about the tv & news...but lately, as I have become older (in my 30's) I think she's smart. Who wants to watch that crap? It's upsetting. I actually would rather read or write or do something creative or brainless (wash laundry) than watch the television or look outside. (seriously).

My boyfriend thinks I'm paranoid, but I think I'm safe. Living in Germany, during the Libya bombings, having to see gas stations bombed in our backyard (more or less - Frankfurt)...was an eye opener as a kid. The world is not as it seems. It is great, but it can be very hard too.

Has the world knocked the wind out of everyone? The wind that drove Shakespeare, Tolstoi, Doystoevky forward. Is a Utopian soceity out of reach forever?

Char said...

In some ways I think the world seems worse because we have instant access to all of the wrongdoing in it as opposed to our forefathers who didn't have this knowledge. I think the world has always had this as long as there has been more than one human - when bad things like competition and greed are out there.

But..we have to hold on to hope. Maybe Sabine will be the one to spark a peace movement that will spark the world. All we can do is teach and guide.

Sandra said...

In the end, you can't protect her. You can shield her from things she isn't ready to understand, but she will be in the world that awaits her no matter what. What you need to consider instead is, can the world awaiting her be changed? Not if you stick your head in the sand and wish it away. My nickels worth of opinion.

30th Attempt said...

I know what you mean. I live in Northern Ireland, born and bred, and although the hateful sectarianism thankfully didnt blight my developing brain as a child, now that my wife and I are in the early stages of planning for a family (ie, talking about it) I share your worry.

will the remaining dissident threat try to make a return to everyday killing on our streets?

will my child be caught up in that violence, physically or subliminally like the majority of us normal people here were, ie, non combatants living in fear...

but, what are the options? when good people do nothing the bad guys dominate. who knows, but lets hope, because without hope we're done for.

phew! I need to watch some stand-up comedy or somethin now!

Amanda said...

Carson was born right after Columbine happened, and I very quickly lesarned how scary it is to raise a child. However, my mom talks about practicing running into the bomb shelters when she was young, so all generations have their own fears for their children.

Again, our lack of news on tv at home helps tremendously.

Elizabeth said...

Dear julochka
Bee pointed me in your direction.
How well I understand how difficult and confusing it is when bombarded with (dis)information all the time.
Yes, you would be much happier without your TV.
Last week in the US we were all going to die of Swine Flu. This week, since only one person has died, no one is interested any more.
We are very vulnerable and raw when our children are young. In the 80's when mine were young it was Chernoyble (sp), before that it was Nazis and TB and
diptheria (That was a horror).
So, sadly, its always SOMETHING, and the media does nothing to help.
So only watch the news once a day on a serious channel. Ignore celebrities and realise that the world wags on for better or worse much as it has ever done.
Think of the position of women in the 19th cent and the third world now...
Think how much improvement there has been in medicine (of course too much now)
Sending you greetings from NY and hopeful thoughts.

Carlotta said...

I'm really choked up so I hope what I'm writing makes some type of sense.

What you say is so true. I got so fed up watching CNN and other cable news shows (and even other shows on television) that I've considerably cut down how often I watch. I don't think reporting and journalism is fresh or informative anymore. Everyone's just trying to be the one who got the story first. I know there's a lot of bad things going on in the world, but there's a good side to life too. There are good, well-intentioned people, and I don't understand why decency and solid values aren't considered news worthy.

I feel for children because there's all this pressure to look a certain way, and being successful is equated to if you can win money on a reality show. There just doesn't seem to be enough examples, particulary in the medai, of persons with strong character. There's such an unbelievable preoccupation with celebrity (especially umerited celebrity).

Mrs.Rotty said...

I can't help but think about this on a DAILY basis because of where i am and what i'm doing right now.

fact of the matter being, I am at war.

No i did not choose start this war. No, i may not agree whole heartedly about the reason. but i am here.

Why am i doing this? but a better question might be is Why am i happy about being here and doing this?

I want to make the world a better place. It is hard to watch the news when i'm actually home stateside and hear all the bashing and the terrible news report and so on about whats going on over here.

what the news doesn't say is all the good things that are going on. the smiles on the faces of the kids we help out on an almost daily basis. the good things and positive aspects of our mission here don't equal ratings. so they're not news worthy.

I think that it's a responsibility of each individual person to try and make the world a better place.

You can't sit back and complain about our future if you don't try to make it better.

even if its just recycling. something is better than nothing.

paris parfait said...

I think our president is one of those thinkers. But you're right, there are too few today, especially in positions of power. The best we can do for our children is give them strong foundations and as much education as possible, so they can think for themselves when those around them aren't (thinking).

Kortnii said...

I am not a mother. But i am a very paranoid person. I admit to it.
And this topic is one of the most prominent thoughts whirling around my brain these days.

People were arguing in the diner I was settled at the other evening while with my Lucas. They were arguing about "where did we come from?" you know, god or evolution. chicken and egg convo.
I laughed, not out of humour, and looked at Lucas saying "Why are they so worried about who created us? We should be worried about whos destroying us. and that happens to be US." our dinner was left in silence for some time after that, staring off towards the ranting couple.


Unknown said...

I know, I much scary stuff out there. As a mom to a 14 and 18 yr old, it's hard to let your kids go and experience it. But remember, through the road is uncertain, twisted and sometimes dark, have faith (and turn off the TV, grab a good book, glass of favorite whatever and breath). "Love conquers all".

“There is no fear in love. Perfect
love casts out fear.”
~ 1 John 4:18

"Faith is the strength by which
a shattered world shall emerge
into the light.”
~ Helen Keller

Check out this interesting site I stumbled upon:

Food for thought.

kristina - no penny for them said...

hi julochka, have been following your blog for a little while. i think it's great you wrote that post - why only ever blog about beautiful and funny things when sometimes this is just not what is moving us deep down. i guess we should all be brave like that, sharing these thoughts, more often.

i've thought about giving up tv more than once, but have decided against it. i have a masters degree in humanities but i still like to watch some crap tv every now and again. hey-ho. but i'm finding i like watching less tv-news and instead follow newspapers from different countries online. i like that there is such a big range of information - it's not just front-page-disaster-oriented 'news' but reports about real people, about positive developments, about the arts, you name it. it helps me to put things in perspective. because it shows that no matter how bad things are in our world, and they are, there are ordinary people everywhere, who try to make it a better place, each in their own way. and i do believe the little things we do count for far more than it might seem.

i just know your daughter will be strong - because quite obviously she has two loving, very strong parents.

Stacey Childs said...

don't even get me started on swine flu...

But seriously, it is people like you who realize these kinds of things and can instill good virtues in the next generations to do the same with their children.

That's why education (I sound like my mother) is so important. To physically get to the scene of the action and see the reality before the hype. To realize that news media is just another form of profiteering. To see that people who dress and look differently to you still have feelings and love and children and needs.

You go Julie!

hele said...

similar thought kept me awake all night.

molly said...

yup. sometimes it all just seems too much to bear. strange that we keep on going, eh?