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Not My Childhood
A few weeks ago, a lady was brutally murdered by a young man in our sleepy little town.
This young man didn’t know his victim and had no reason at all to dislike her, he just arbitrarily decided that he was going to kill her that morning as she washed her car.
The question which has been burning around here ever since is “Why?” and it appears the young man’s answer is simply “Why not?”
Now, before I go any further, I want to say that I in no way condone this senseless crime and am glad that the killer has been arrested and will be charged accordingly. Whatever else you think you read here, that remains true.
What brings a young man to kill a random stranger?
This was not a ‘robbery gone bad’ or anything like that, he simply saw her and decided to kill her.
What I’ve been told is that the young man in question was brought up in a gang culture, a culture where theft, assault and murder are seen as negative only when they happen to you.
When it’s you doing it to other people, these things are more status symbols or rights of passage.
This is a culture which is so twisted that ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ is as alien as life on Mars.
There is a high likelihood that the killer killed for nothing more than ‘respect’ and status among the people he lived with and associated with every day.
As I heard that explanation of his actions, I was reminded of the song ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ by Coolio.
In it, Coolio tries to explain the way he was raised, not so much by his parents but by the culture all around him, a culture that probably the majority of the people reading this blog can’t really understand or comprehend.
A culture which should really be called a sub-culture within the American culture but which is so far removed from it that it’s almost unrecognizable as such.
The childhood that these people experienced is simply nothing like what you or I experienced.
That doesn’t excuse this murder, but it does go a long way toward explaining it.
Then we come to see the riots in Britain a few weeks ago.
What brought youths to run wild on the streets, ignoring law, authority and any sense of decency and decorum?
This video at the BBC website might help explain it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14458424
These are kids who feel totally outcast by society. They have no understanding of economics or how the world of the ‘rich people’ works, they simply see ‘us’ and ‘them’ and have no outlet for their frustration and feeling of powerlessness.
Rioting isn’t the answer, but rather it’s a symptom that opens our eyes to a greater problem.
And it comes back to childhood.
When I think of childhood, I think of the picture at the very top of this page. Children happily playing on swings and play equipment, learning and growing in a world full of possibilities.
I talked with my six year old son the other day about what he wanted to do when he grows up and he told me he has no idea.
My response to that was that at six years old, that’s fine, he has plenty of time and the world is his oyster.
So many children though are taught completely the opposite.
The world, they’re told, is against them. They’ll never succeed, never get good jobs, never drag themselves up out of the mud. What you see is what you get.
Although it doesn’t happen so much here in the West, the picture at the beginning of this post is reality in many parts of the world. Children dragged into battle to become child soldiers. At an age where we are worrying about immunizations and how well they’ll do in school, they’re given AK-47’s and sent out to kill or be killed.
What Are We Doing?
Childhood. It has so much effect and bearing on the rest of our lives.
We worry about our kid’s childhoods and bringing them up ‘right’ and yet ignore the hundreds of children just across the tracks whose childhoods are shaping them to be thieves and rioters and murderers… and we do nothing about it.