Goodbye Innocence

 I drove past a boy today, and as I looked at him, he swiftly turned his head in shame.

Who was he? Just a long-haired kid in a gangster hat, his tee ultra-baggy and his shorts sagging. He must have been, say, thirteen? As he stood there on the edge of a shady patch of woods in his front yard, he looked up, saw me, and quickly pretended to be bored.

WHY?

He had been playing with a stick before he noticed me, poking around the woods with carefree curiosity. But when he saw me, he was ashamed, and tried to nonchalantly bounce the stick in his hand and stare towards the house as if waiting for a friend.

The encounter took less than 10 seconds, but it left me feeling depressed. Who stole innocence from our society’s kids? When did carefree curiosity become “uncool”, even unheard of? When did it become not ok for kids to play with sticks and stones and just plain get dirty for no real reason? I felt sad for the boy, even though I didn’t even know his name, because I could imagine his life manual all too plainly.

  • Succeed in sports, or everyone will see I am not worth anything.
  • Succeed in flirting with the cute girls at school, or everyone will think I am a nerd.
  • Succeed in wearing cool clothes, having cool stuff, and hanging at cool places, or everyone will be embarrassed to be around me.
  • Succeed in getting away with dangerous stuff, or everyone will think I am a ninny.
  • Succeed in hiding my emotions, because no one really cares anyhow.

Life is a trap for teens today. We have scores of homeless teens, teens in juvie, teen parents, teen cutters, teen dealers,  teens hopelessly trapped by addictions, scores of teen suicides and homicides. Carefree has no meaning. Innocence can get you in a heap of trouble. Hope is nowhere to be found. Some seek it anyhow, but most are so practiced at wearing their mask of nonchalance that soon even they forget they have a problem.

Where are the kids who live out of who they really are inside… what they feel and see, what they wish and dream for? Where is hope, new birth, and a fresh start? Who is gonna’ step out, give instead of take, love like there’s no tomorrow, and be a crazy voice crying in the wilderness with a message of hope and belonging?

We need a revolution.

Desperately.

It can start with me. Or you….

But only if we care enough to be uncool.

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