Unlike kids of today, we spent our days outside even when it was hot enough to fry an egg on an asphalt parking lot. In the 'olden' days the only air conditioning was outside under trees. A breeze on a 98F day could make you shiver. We occupied ourselves vs depending on a variety of battery and electronically driven gizmos and gadgets to do it for us. My bike was an army jeep, a horse, or a police car all in the span of 20 minutes even as late as my 6th grade year. Families and neighbors chatted on porches or under shade trees while snapping beans or shelling peas. Kids said, 'Yes ma'am," and "No, sir," and acted like it when your back was turned because they knew another adult would care enough to be watching.
My family didn't even have a TV until I was a tween-ager. Books came alive with as much intensity as one of Steven Speilberg's 3D movies when flashlights lit the pages. If you mom caught on to your flashlight caper and you were lucky enough to be situated well, you could draw back the curtain and continue to read by street light. I blame my middle-aged eyes on the nights the streetlight was my flashlight. Beverly Clearly, Patricia St. John, and Gertrude Warner with all their cohorts wove simple tales that kept me awake till the end of the book without troubling my dreams. The children who lived between the covers of those books were innocent, resourceful, and respectful.
Oprah was abandoning us. Chad Everette, as Dr. Gannon on Medical Center, was going to utter the first 'D' word ever spoken during prime time TV. There was collective shock, outrage, and protest. Yet, we all tuned in to see if it was true. And, it was. It wasn't too long after that when I was aware of my 1st exposure to a feminine hygiene commercial. The rest, as they say is history.
I don't mind telling you that I found it all fairly invigorating in some ways. I was woman. They told me all this change was about enabling me to roar. I never burned a bra, but I can remember news accounts of protests where it happened. That makes me slightly younger than the age of suffragettes, I guess! By the time I graduated college, women could envision and obtain careers other than teaching and nursing. That, as my nemesis, Martha would say, "is a good thing."
And now...now we have the Hilton and Kardashian sisters, The Ozzy Osbourne and Gene Simmons families, as well as teen moms on MTV who rival bratty brides on Bridezilla. Don't get me wrong, I am not sitting on some high-fallutin high horse. I grew quite fond of Kelly Osbourne during her Dancing With the Stars transformation even tho' I never watched the show. Cable news told me all I needed to know in snippets here and there. I appreciate growth and change when I see it. My sense of her is that of a young lady who has turned her life around. Anyone would agree it was a feat given what she's dealt with in her life. Yet, nothing about today's media titans leaves me feeling better for having spent time in their presence. Frankly, a lot of times, I want a brain bath and reassurance that the world will be a better place tomorrow despite the vapid selfishness depicted in today's media circuses.
Young women celebrate their empowerment even as they celebrate the freedom to 'hook up' in relationships designated 'friends with benefits'. Young men and young women flail in confusion over the value of being fully male or fully female. Even as we celebrate our empowerment, we watch the stories of senseless slaughter because one person does not value the lives of others.
I wonder...did empowerment lead to slavery? Was what we gained worth what we lost in the process of our empowerment? Something was lost in translation:
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For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Carol Anne Wright Swett 2011