Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The 'Golden Mean'

I think our society tends towards a dichotomy -- XTreme precautions, to the point that you can't buy a real chemistry set anymore and laws are being proposed to restrict fast food; and on the other hand, simple neglect or indifference to a toxic environment. Everyone has to find their own balance for their own family and children. But there is a golden mean between any two extremes, and it seems to me that children learn more about risk by learning to handle it to some extent according to their maturity than by being kept from it altogether.

When I read this tonight I went Yes! with a capital y. Just this month when my parents were visiting this whole controversy about plastic water bottles was in our paper every day (front page). I generally am a little more than neglectful about reading the paper, but my mom and dad read it and so they were informing me of the daily saga. We all have those Nalgene water bottles (I purchased them a while back thinking that they were good because they were hard plastic) but the paper was now saying they were no good. Probably that we would all have cancer by next week. Day by day it went on, describing the ills that await those of us who consume our liquids in these 'unfit' bottles and so on. I explained to anyone who wanted to hear that I think all this fuss about the water bottles is severely missing the point: as a society we drink milk full of drugs and residual pesticides, we drive around our vehicles way too much, we consume too much. Right here in this same city who puts the evils of number 7 bottles on the front page of the paper, the whole city is sprayed with poison to lessen our mosquito population.

Maybe this has turned into a bit of a rant. But it just seems like more and more we are growing away from a our own practical sense and wisdom into this chaos of complete dichotomies.

Following up on the newspaper, by day 4 or 5 we got to the point where now it was alright for people to drink out of the bottles, just don't give them to really young kids and don't put really hot stuff in them.

Maybe I am just a skeptic. Maybe I need to go to sleep. Probably it is a little bit of both.

If you want to read a good thought provoking read on this 'golden mean' visit Willa, from whom I quoted above.


Willa said...

Yes, I've noticed this too! And in the old days people had few ways to prevent food poisoning while still keeping themselves and their children nourished. Caution is good, but I don't think people always realize what they are losing when they get too caught up in the minute details of trying to keep themselves immortal -- or at least, that's what it seems like sometimes.

Us! said...

Yes that is what it seems like.
I have been thinking alot this week about how society doesn't allow our children to be children in the old sense of the word.

I like how John Taylor Gatto talked about it when he came and spoke here in the city; about how we keep our children 'young' too long in the sense that we don't let them mature into adults as they grow but keep them in a state of perpetual childhood. Couple this with the fact that during the years when they should be children, they are being piled high with homework, planned activities, and an often micromanaged life, and one finds that that state of childhood (when it should happen) is lost.

I find this whole topic one that challenges me to keep hold and guard jealously my children's time- time to ponder, grow, and discover. But to also let my blossoming teen and preteen stretch their limbs out (within reason) so that they can begin making decisions, attempting new things etc. (all the different things that will help them mature into a capable and exciting adulthood.