Sunday, September 20, 2009

Consuming Life - The Next Steps

Sigmund Freud stated that the first six years of childhood are the most important to the overall development of an individual. What happens after that? The next steps for us are what some refer to as the "Adolescent" stage (a newer entity society occurring between the ages of 13-19). During this stage, these teenagers are influenced more and more outside of their home. In many cases, teenagers look and search intentionally for outside sources of guidance and influence, finding some pop culture or media phenomenon. Rather than parents being the authoritative figures (in some cases they are the enemy), police and educational faculty have taken over the role. We live in families, are born by parents, as children, then adapt, grow, learn and somehow, in many cases, family means nothing.

For thousands of years, this adolescence wasn't in existence, there was one leap from child to adult. The ancient Aztecs celebrated a female transitioning into a lady at the age of 15, a bar mitzvah welcomes a male or female to adulthood at an even younger age. These are a few examples of ancient traditions which give way to the growth of an individual and celebrates their transition from boy or girl to man or woman. It is a symbol that honors the maturity and responsibility of an individual. And maybe traditions have changed quite a bit but regardless, once this "adolescent" stage has been reached, many people are unable to grasp the responsibilities around them. Most of this stems from their earlier preparation. But another problem with this "adolescence," in my opinion, is the easy access to avoid consequences. Life is something that only happens one time and of course it must be enjoyed and cherished. It should also be taken with responsibility and with significance. A part of cherishing a life is making it into the best of its abilities. Every choice should be made with some conscientious cogitation, with some regard for the outcome and/or consequences.

The steps that we begin taking at an early age will be carried through our entire life. The paths we take will lead us in whichever direction we choose to go, good or bad: Each decision made, determines an applicable outcome. At the adolescent age it is far easier to make irrational and even immoral decisions, especially with no strengthened moral base to walk on. Even further, when the consequences are nothing more than a mere slap on the wrist, doing the irrational or immoral becomes apparently easy. Between the ages of 11-19 all of us are still developing, mentally, physically and emotionally. We continue to grow independently and strengthen our own persona's.

As we grow and develop, we are influenced by what is around us. People, places and things that we come into contact with, directly and indirectly, carry some weight on our actions and reactions to what comes at us. Media and pop culture are two of the biggest factors in impacting people's beliefs, theories and vitality. They say the age group that is easiest to influence through media is from the early age of 4 to 15, but even young adults become easily susceptible to what the see on television. People are beginning to suffer in terms of deciphering between reality and fantasy, fiction and non-fiction.

It seems many people hide between theories and speculation, rather than having faith or true belief in themselves, let alone in reality. They can't see the difference between biased knowledge and realistic information. In my opinion, media and pop culture carry a big weight on peoples developments, especially when people go as far as to act how a celebrity acts. Negative connotations such as "being a gangster", "drug use" and "premarital sex" have become glorified in media and pop culture. Media has been responsible for other societal flaws as well, so immorally influencing this generations children and adolescents isn't a first time this activity has occurred.

A parents job is never over, in my opinion. They should always be there for their children, even when they have grandchildren, for as long as they can be. And their children should also be there for their parents, to help them when they need it and to support them when they need it. A parents job is simple, to raise their child, from an infant, to an adult, and to guide them with the necessary information and conduct to take the best steps possible to be taken. A parents should differentiate between what is right and what is wrong, not education systems and not the police. They are in place to give children knowledge and to protect the people, respectively. People make mistakes, it happens, and it can be forgiven, but the more information someone has on how to take hold and responsibility of their life, the more prepared they will be to do so. It is never easy for a parent to let go of their child, so that they can take an independent approach to their own life, but it is a necessity. They are not losing them, only allowing them the freedom to explore and take full responsibility of their own life, so that they may one day take responsibility of family.

A family is like a tree, that continues to grow and branch off, but it is all attached and needs every part to remain strong and whole. Each branch is responsible for maintaining its own stems and leaves, but it is connected to the trunk which in turn connects it to every other branch and its roots. Government and corporations should not be controlling what our children think or how our children act. No one should be controlling anything a child does. It is the parents job to teach their children the difference between what is real and what is not, and what is right and what is wrong. Experiences give aid to what we are informed on, either tainting or strengthening the view, but without any way to properly view the world, the wrong can appear right and the right can appear wrong. We can teach our experiences to our children, but we must be able to take responsibility first before we can give them proper direction. It all stems from the roots and works its way up.

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