Friday, April 22, 2005

Time Goes By

When I was a child growing up in the 1950's, I marveled at the fact that my parents were able to remember back to the 1920's and 1930's. It seemed improbable to me that anyone would be able to remember anything from that many years earlier. Now that I am nearly sixty years old myself, I realize that twenty, thirty or even forty years is not really a long time. While I certainly don't remember everything from my childhood or every classmate or neighbour, I do remember some things and some close friends of the era very well.

Time goes by. We lose track of friends. We move. We get busy. We marry and have families. We make new friends. Suddenly, decades have gone by and we wonder whatever happened to so-and-so.

In recent years, with the help of the internet, I have found friends with whom I had lost touch over the decades. Classmates. Bandmates from my Rock 'n Roll days. I stay in touch with some and others, alas, have slipped away again. Different interests. Different politics. Different philosophies. The usual.

The world has changed dramatically since I was a child. I know you've heard it all before, but I'm going to say it again. In the fifties, no-one where we grew up locked their doors. We could leave our toys and bicycles on the sidewalk overnight and everything would still be there in the morning. Car keys were left in ignitions everywhere.

I never heard of a rape or a child abduction until I was in my teens and then it was far away from where I lived. I don't remember ever hearing of a murder in Port Colborne or later in St. Catharines where we moved in 1960. From Port Colborne, a friend and I rode our bicycles 23 miles to the U.S. border, crossed over through the Buffalo slums and went shopping downtown. No problem.

Today? I am afraid to let my son out of my sight. There are registries of child molesters and other sex offenders everywhere. Murder is commonplace, even in London, Ontario near where I now live. People are ill-mannered, ill-tempered and often just plain nasty.

Not everyone, of course fits these descriptions, but enough do to make my case. Is it any different where you live?

I didn’t think so.

Why are things as they are? I think it is because we don't hold anyone accountable for anything anymore. When kids get into mischief, it is because they are 'just being kids,' and nothing is done. I live in a pretty upscale area where one wouldn’t expect much rowdyism. We have had our home egged, telephone wires severed and our garden shed burglarized. One slushy day a few years ago, two bored teens in snowmobiles buzzed around the house and left deep ruts everywhere in the lawn.

On one occasion, when I saw several teens throw firecrackers onto the roof of my house, I called the police. A policeman visited the home of one of the boys. I had seen him and two of his friends run into the house when I chased them. The mother answered the door and when the policeman asked to speak to her son, she shrugged, summoned the boy, and left for another part of the house. She didn’t even care to find out what the boy had done. If she knew what he was up to, she might have to do something about it. It's better not to know. Isn't it?

Wouldn’t you want to know if your child had been up to some mischief? Wouldn't you want to do something about it? I certainly would. The policeman returned to my home to tell us what had transpired and all he could do was shake his head in bewilderment. Parents don't care. The law enforcers are often helpless.

I don't usually live in the past. Yes, times were different then and some things were better. But other things are better now. We have more stuff. We have much more choice in everything we do. But none of this will mean anything if we become a nation of savages. We need to start making everyone accountable again for their actions. We need to make parents act like parents by having them accept responsibility for the actions of their children.

We have to start soon. We're running out of time. But what do we do? How do we turn things around?

Is it, in fact, too late already?


  1. I empathize. I hope it is not too late. But, somedays I think it's the beginning of the end. But then, that's what parents have been lamenting about since a couple thousand years before Jesus, haven't they.

  2. The pendulum will swing back, eventually. I hope I'll still be around to see it, but I doubt it.

    As I'm sure you are, I am concerned about the future of my child and the world he will inherit.

  3. The way you should have delt with that kid, was to go round to the parents house, knock on the door, drag the father into the garden, and then beat him up in front of his kid/wife.
    You may think this wrong, but holding the parents responsible for the actions of the child works

  4. Beating up the dad would have been very tempting except for the facts that he was 20 years younger, bigger, and that I would have been the one who ended up in jail. You are right about the parents needing to accept responsibility.