It has been revealed to me what a sterile world we live in. We might as well live in white boxes painted with purell. Our children go from home to school to home to video games to bed and so on while in between they eat perfectly sterile looking food and wash their hands to sterile perfection. We are raising a generation of anxious germaphobic people who are afraid to leave their houses in the case of contracting some sort of illness. I believe fear in general is the basis of this condition. Our children are not allowed to walk down the street to their friends house alone for fear of coming in contact with an evil stranger. They are also forbidden from climbing trees, playing in creeks, running through the fields or spashing in mud puddles for other obvious germophobic anxiety ridden reasons. No, this generation is trapped in the box of “perfect” society where everything must be disinfected, purified, simplified to the point of no imagination.
What interests me the most is how this has caused a dramatic loss of tradition. Generation of generations past used to tell their grandchildren about the fun they had playing with chickens, exploring creekbeds and riding their bikes to the friend on the other end town. It used to be that we spent time practicing certain traditions around certain holidays with certain family members. Now we spend time alone reading internet blogs in our green (sterile) lofts.
When my child was a toddler I was studying human development and came to realize how many children my son’s age were being diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder–its rather phenominal. Some say its that the symptoms for the disorders have been expanded which in part is true. But I have a different idea. As I began raising my son in the same sterile manner that most modern parents are following, I realized that something was wrong. There was no introduction in infancy through later childhood to certain things. Dirt, a tactile and healthy thing is now forbidden. When are babies allowed to rub their hands along tree trunks? When are children allowed to let their feet feel the cool stream run over them, under them, around them? Without natural (normal) introductions to healthy stimuli a human is naturally going to lack the sensory ability to partake in such senses and therefore be more sensitive to such things. What about smells? Are children now raised to think that clorox wipes and hand sanitizer among other things are healthy? What about flowers? Trees? Grass? Dirt itself? Or even manuar? Sweat? These are things that allow for a healthy “sensory diet.” How about pain? Our children are babied now days. When they fall down they are babied and disifected to prevent such horrors as a staff infection. When will a child learn to endure pain? Falling and scraping a knee (while climbing a tree) merely teaches them that pain does not kill–only makes you stronger. Our children aren’t spanked and many not effectively disciplined at all. They are confused between right and wrong, good and bad. Those things don’t exsist within their box. (A different topic entirely)
Can we raise our children to appreciate beauty if we don’t let them partake in it? Sound. Music. How many children do you know that can walk outside and appreciate the music of the wind in the trees? They must be taught and exposed to such things. Of course this also demands that we have a less busy schedule. One where we can teach our children that is it ok to stop and relax and enjoy the moment–to be present in who they are, in where they are.
Something that made my mind fly in this direction was when I was sitting in church one day. In the orthodox church, all the senses are explored. The gold and bright colors, the incense, the music–everything penitrates deeply coming straight from hundreds of years ago, passed down by tradition. They are all strong senses. And in this environment they all point to holiness–to God. But isn’t that true of the rest of the world? Our being here is a gift. Shouldn’t we at least be thankful enough to partake of what we are given? To stop and smell the roses so to speak? Slow down, get your hands a little dirty, your feet a little wet and enjoy life outside of that purell coated lifestyle.