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Fear & loathing in Canberra – Trump and our children

By Suzanne Kiraly - 15 November 2016 6

child-1439468_640Out of the mouths of babes – I was deeply touched by a colleague’s comment on social media last week reporting her young son’s response to seeing a photograph of Donald Trump on her mobile phone. And I quote….

“[He] just leant over my shoulder and said ‘Donald Trump! He’s evil.’ What makes you say that, I asked. ‘Go, Hillary!’ He responded. But why is Trump bad, I asked. ‘He wants to build a giant wall between America and Mexico and take away all the nachos,’ he said. #lockupyourcornchips

Humour aside, it reminded me of the deeply-felt, influential article written by Hunter S. Thompson entitled “Fear & Loathing in America” following 9/11. Hunter was forecasting (rightly so) and serving up a warning, about knee-jerk reactions, driven by fear.

In Australia, if you read the posts on Facebook and Twitter and the media reactions immediately after the Trump election victory last week, a similar fear seems to be infiltrating the newswires and social media.

The child’s comment (although amusing for adults), still stems from a reflection of fear that’s being picked up, most likely through the lens of public sentiment. I spoke with a teacher of Year One students yesterday who was alarmed at the little ones chanting: “Kill Trump, kill Trump,” as they came into the classroom.

Perhaps this is a time we need to take stock of the effect we are having on our children, with regard to creating an atmosphere of fear and also potentially removing “hope” for their future. It’s a serious issue.

In an age where media permeates our lives and more often than not, it’s bad news – (sometimes devastatingly so) and serving up the human tragedy and suffering, day-in-day-out, we are setting the preconditions that facilitate and even augment mental health issues throughout the population.

Listening to a Richard Fidler interview this morning with Paul Stephenson, entitled: “Act of Conscience”, where he talked about being instructed NEVER to give hope to the refugees when he worked at Nauru as a consulting psychologist, it brought the devastating consequences of having a large number of refugees trying to commit suicide every single day. His comments were along the lines that, when you demoralise people and take away their hope, you cause many of them to give up on their very lives.

I was reminded through the interview that “hope” for our future is a basic human right and we should really be mindful of this fact when we are discussing the state of the world with our children. Of course, we don’t want them to think that life is easy, by any means, but we also must temper our discussions to guide them through so much negativity in the world and make sure that we leave them with the impression that (in Obama’s words) the sun will come up in the morning and that they still have a future where the world is their oyster and there is a whole life of possibilities still waiting for them out there.

So I urge Canberra parents, guardians, teachers and others who are influencers of our youth, to be mindful about the way they react to the political and military unrest around the world today and to make sure that we NEVER rob them of hope for their future.

We can take from history and other great thinkers and writers of their time on this topic, like “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and the notion that our children should always be entitled to great expectations. And the words of H.G.Wells regarding how we have viewed catastrophe over time, and the political stage we live in today is not entirely without precedent.

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” – H.G. Wells

 

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6 Responses to
Fear & loathing in Canberra – Trump and our children
1
wildturkeycanoe 7:24 am
15 Nov 16
#

“So I urge Canberra parents, guardians, teachers and others who are influencers of our youth, to be mindful about the way they react to the political and military unrest around the world today and to make sure that we NEVER rob them of hope for their future.”
I think that sugar coating life to avoid planting crippling emotional stigmas in our children is not a wise thing to do. All creatures great and small teach their offspring how to survive, what is safe and what can cause them harm or even death. Some lessons are learned through trial and error, but important ones are handed down from parents. If I was to react to an IS beheading video with a shrug of my shoulders and carefree comment of “Meh, will never happen here!”, what kind of example does that set? Sure we need to encourage our children to be what they can be, but life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Kids need to realize that times are harder than ever before, that you need to work extremely hard in life to survive, that the world will prey upon your goodwill and take advantage of you if possible.
Nowadays you need to be insured for just about everything, have a nest egg saved up as a contingency plan in case you need serious medical or dental help, the streets aren’t safe at any time of day or night and home ownership is gradually climbing out of reach of the ordinary working person. Our national parks are being demolished by forestry, mining is ruining the land, water tables and the reefs, drought is turning the rest of our arable land into desert and the cost of living in general is pushing more and more of us into poverty or underemployment.
Seriously, the world is going down the gurgler and shielding our kids from these facts is not going to help them face this truth.

2
Serina Huang 11:58 am
15 Nov 16
#

Hi wildturkeycanoe, I agree with you that children ought not to be ‘shielded’. Not to say we ought to hit them over the head with the realities of life without giving them a cuddle or two, but when they they ask questions about the world and what is happening in it we ought to give them honest answers. Or explain that we don’t have answers. As a mother of a grade one and nearly preschool boys, I do try to implement this. I am perhaps a little more optimistic about our future than you are, but acknowledge the truth of the issues you have flagged.

3
HenryBG 1:16 pm
15 Nov 16
#

Indoctrinating your beliefs into young children is child abuse – whether it’s irrational religious beliefs, or irrational political beliefs.
300 people successfully cross the border illegally from Mexico into the USA every single day of the week. Security to prevent this happening is the very opposite of “evil”.
If children are rocking up at school chanting “kill trump”, the police should be called.

4
wildturkeycanoe 4:19 pm
15 Nov 16
#

HenryBG said :

Indoctrinating your beliefs into young children is child abuse – whether it’s irrational religious beliefs, or irrational political beliefs.

Surely you jest. What about indoctrinating them with the belief that there is no such thing as God,that they are just the result of an accidental combination and evolution of molecules billions of years ago and as such, there is no point to life except surviving any way possible to indulge in personal pleasures until their inevitable demise? What about instilling some sense of morality so that humans don’t just turn on each other knowing there won’t be any consequences before or after death? We can teach from our own experiences, from the wealth of information in books and media, give them choices, but nobody can tell anybody else how to raise their kids.

5
dungfungus 4:42 pm
15 Nov 16
#

HenryBG said :

Indoctrinating your beliefs into young children is child abuse – whether it’s irrational religious beliefs, or irrational political beliefs.
300 people successfully cross the border illegally from Mexico into the USA every single day of the week. Security to prevent this happening is the very opposite of “evil”.
If children are rocking up at school chanting “kill trump”, the police should be called.

I wish you would come out of your cage more often Henry because you have a way of saying it as it should be said.

6
TuggLife 7:40 am
16 Nov 16
#

HenryBG said :

Indoctrinating your beliefs into young children is child abuse – whether it’s irrational religious beliefs, or irrational political beliefs.
300 people successfully cross the border illegally from Mexico into the USA every single day of the week. Security to prevent this happening is the very opposite of “evil”.
If children are rocking up at school chanting “kill trump”, the police should be called.

Oh, come on. The parents aren’t chanting it at home – the kids have just picked up that he’s the ‘bad guy’. I remember playing Saddam Hussein vs Roger Ramjet when I was a kid, with precious little understanding of the situation in the Gulf.

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