Recently a fellow storyteller Bill Harley wrote a blog post on the reality of childhood and how over protective human society has become. Read his post on “Is childhood more dangerous now?”
I would suggest that as the average age of our society has risen and as our society has become less spiritual, less community oriented and more individual, cynical and isolated. We have become more afraid of death. Death is no longer seen as natural – but instead is the elephant in the room. Any accident any encounter with the unknown becomes an opportunity for death to stalk us or our family. All great lies have a gleam of truth and death really is stalking all of us. The good news that life just wouldn’t be the same with out it. Death gives sweetness to life it forces us to face our fears it forces us to live. We know that at some time in the future we will die and we better get our act together and do the best we can in this life because someday with or with out warning the clock will stop.
But we have denied death to our children. Not in the sense that we have prevented it – but in the sense that we have separated it from out children’s lives. We have bubble wrapped death in pink ribbons and video games where death means you get another life just like the one you had – isn’t that nice?
But the cool thing about the post that Bill wrote is that he is talking about a problem that has been going on for a long time – the invasion and the capitalization of children’s lives to they point were they have no time to 1) be themselves 2) be around children only spaces and 3) make there own mistakes.
But there is a whole different level to this conversation. Today much of the natural world in America as it was experienced in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s has been paved over to develop suburban housing. We have built a world were many children just don’t have the space to explore – they don’t have the excess to the opportunity.
We have built a world with out wood lots, streams or fields. This lack of access prevents the question did you play in the woods today? from even arising.
I (my family) live in the vale, a 13 family land trusted community on 37 acres of woods and fields. We have given up real-estate speculation and gained the knowledge that our children spent time growing up building dams unsupervised in the local stream or rope swinging off a 20 foot drop or sneaking up on skunks. Or a hundred other activates that they survived unscathed form and I never heard about. These experiences gave them fortitude and a strength of character that can’t be duplicated by camp or school.