Why the Stinkin Thinkin

Crickets chirping in the weeds, lightning bugs flickering in the nighttime sky and the always present moths gathered around porch lights all combined with whispers, giggles and childish pranks to get attention. This was summer in America, when time slowed and children stared at fluffy clouds imagining what they could become. This was summer before computers or video games; children played ball across the neighbors yards, helped with the lawn and eagerly planned bike trips and visits to the community pool. Front porches were an important part of American history then. It's where parents stood to call the children in, best friends huddled and families shouted greetings from.

Childhood was a time of innocence; our children had dreams. They dreamed of being a teenager, getting a driving license, an innocent date and what they might one day be able to rise to and achieve. Hopeful dreams frequently had to be tamped down by teachers to entice the children to pay attention. They were excited about life and eager to live it.

Something has happened to our children. Their minds are filled with 'stinkin thinkin'. They have traded ball games and bike trips for video games and solitary meals that enable them to continue their games. They have 'virtual' friends they may never meet. They are jaded, with little expectation of greatness; their hopes and dreams traded for the simple things we used to take for granted. They are far more excited about winning the video game than catching a lightning bug or discerning what the fluffy clouds could be. They have lost their innocence.

Today our children are seeking something to be angry about, some imagined insult that provides the opportunity to take to the streets to demonstrate or even riot. They seem barely aware of the sacrifices made to allow them to carry those signs and certainly to achieve their dreams. Good breeding and manners that defined earlier generations have been traded for a correctness they accept that smothers their right to think or talk big or otherwise. Our children have become anesthetized to the idea of embracing personal hopes and dreams. They seek to be the same as every other country, unaware of the opportunity for exceptionalism instilled in being born an American.

This is 'stinkin thinkin.' It happens when minds are filled with negativity, when one becomes ashamed of their roots and imagines they have no right to dream or to rise beyond what others have done. We are a nation of dreamers. It is essential to 'wake up' the children and encourage them to dream again, to live with a respect for others that automatically transfers to self-respect. We need to remind them what being an American really is... it is being born to dream, born blessed.


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