Shouldn’t there be a Test?
We have testing for everything in America. I have to pass a driver’s test to drive my car. I have constant training at work to enhance my capabilities. I have to fill out an intrusive and frightening survey every eight weeks just to donate blood. And don’t get me started on the full body scan and background check required at the pharmacy should a family member have the sniffles and need Sudafed. However, for the most important job ever known to mankind, parenting, one needs only surrender to momentary lust without any consideration of the lifetime commitment later required. No tests, no screening, no training, no manual.
In fact, a good parent first recognizes their own mortality. They recognize that they have just stepped up a place in the generational queue, one step closer to the white light at the end of the tunnel. In an instant, one goes from being the center of the world to the custodian of its future. Parents should feel obliged to build a better world on two fronts. First, as the provider and protector of the innocent, they should strive to change the world around them. This mental paradigm shift allows for the revelation of worldly dangers previously not seen, the recognition of entrenched prejudices, and (should) force us to abandon the societal ennui of callousness and selective blindness which, in its most insidious sequence, allows us to neglect the labors of others in favor of our own egocentric path. Second, through the nurturing, education and development of children, they set the foundation for the next generation who will be charged with taking the mantle of responsibility from us and perpetuating the process over again. So it is with the father who would literally take a bullet for their child, stand in front of a train to protect them and endure all manner of hardship and personal neglect in favor of their children’s prosperity, safety and future. So too it is with the proverbial “Mama Bear” who will, with teeth bared, take on all comers who dare threaten her young, and will, with her dying breath, repel any attempt to harm, malign or impede her children.
Unfortunately, while most of us consider these actions and reactions systemic, indeed, genetic, there are those who procreate without the ability to offer up themselves in favor of their children. Living in some weird Kierkegaard/Nietzsche/Rand bastardization of existential reason and egoism, these people come to regard their offspring as either serfs and vassals living in perpetual obligatory servitude to fulfill their whims and desires, or burdens and impediments to their quixotic (and righteously due them) fantasies; feeding, sheltering, educating and providing for their young no more than some nobles oblige from hell. Nowhere in this prescription does there exist the a priori elevation of the child’s needs and safety over the parent. In its extreme, this takes the form of abuse.
Although regarded as an innocent fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 story The Little Match Girl, when viewed through the actions/inactions of her father (and the many passersby) is a story about child abuse cloaked in the wonder of a near-death experience and the promise of eternal warmth and salvation in the next world. The bottom line is that the bare footed little girl froze to death because she feared being beaten by her father if she did not sell all of the matches. Fairy tale, indeed.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division within the Department of Health and Human Services, in fiscal year 2010, an estimated 3,300,000 referrals were made involving approximately 5,900,000 children to state child protective service agencies. More than five children die from abuse every day and 80% of them are under four years of age. A report of child abuse is made in the United States every ten seconds. Every ten seconds! Sick.
What is the answer? I don’t know. The Chinese one-child policy has done little to reduce the increase in population and may have increased the number of forced abortions, has resulted in vast underreporting in certain areas and resulted (in its most heinous extreme) in female infanticide. All I know is that sometimes, it does take a village to raise a child, and while I don’t mean this in the political sense, it is true that once adopted by a sleuth of mama bears, any neglected child has the revitalized opportunity to survive, grow and succeed. Beware the wrath of a sleuth of mama bears! The earth and stars melt beneath their fury!