I am often reminded of the innocence of youth. Having ten nieces and nephews affords those kinds of constant reminders. There is something sweet and precious about a childlike wonder that kids epitomize. The world can be dark, evil and uncertain, yet to a child those matters are as far away as Pluto. What takes center stage to them is the latest American Girl magazine, upcoming holidays and newest addition for their Lego collection. The politics of the day, the dreaded "fiscal cliff" and the crumbling of moral values in society don't make it to their radar screen.
This is cute when you're a kid. Not so cute when you become an adult. Ignorance is not bliss - especially once you pass the age of obtaining a drivers license, and even more so when you have the legal right and responsibility to vote in elections. When an adult shows a lack of understanding or concern for serious matters that shape and influence the future it is labeled as pathetic, not endearing.
Yet, here we are in a world full of the pathetic. Adults, like young children, don't seem to understand that what happens in their government, community and society ultimately affects their own lives. I am constantly hearing people on the news show their lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to issues that directly effect their very lives. The health care bill? Ask people on the street and I doubt many could give you three solid facts on the law. How about the nation's debt, which each and every citizen is carrying around (whether they realize it or not). I doubt many people could give even an approximate dollar amount. And even if they could, would they understand the true meaning of $16+ trillion? That means over $51,000.00 billed to YOU. Yes you, young thirteen year old worrying more about a break out on school picture day. Yes you, Grandma recovering from hip replacement surgery. Yes you, college graduate with student loans from here to eternity and a job that barely covers the basic bills of food and shelter.
But people don't get it. They choose to live with their eyes shut tight or, even if they are open, they stick their head in a cloud. Either way the result is the same. They are missing reality. They are missing the stark, cold, hard truth of the world in which we live.
And this is when I want to be an innocent kid again. Wouldn't it be nice to escape, even just for a day, into the world of a child? How relaxing and refreshing it would be to truly slip into the innocence of youth. I can only imagine how their minds are turning - not with thoughts of responsibilities or concerns for the future - but with thoughts of which toys to play with next and the newest game to create with the kids in the neighborhood.
When we get older we lose this innocence and we lose the right to it. Instead, it becomes our job to protect that innocence for the young so they can enjoy it as long as we did. We are given the responsibility to protect them from the burdens of adulthood so they can revel in the joys of youth. If we abdicate this responsibility we rob them of a gift they will never be able to possess again. It is a one time opportunity that, once lost, can never be regained.
I know that I can never go back to the days when I didn't think about the seriousness of the world and the problems it faces. I can't go back to not understanding moral decay and Christian persecution. I can't go back to the days when I believed in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny. At some point, all of those fantasies come to an end. Reality hits. You can't rewind. All I can do is pray for the innocence of my ten nieces and nephews to be protected. I can pray that they enjoy a peaceful and happy childhood, just like I had. I can uphold the Christian values and morals that I hope they too will carry into adulthood and throughout their lives.
I can't go back to being a kid. But I can protect the kids in my life. They shouldn't have to grow up any faster then is necessary. Let them write wish lists to Santa for as long as they can because a day will come when they understand that Santa was actually Mom and Dad and that elves didn't make a single toy that showed up under the Christmas tree. That is a sad day for every child and for every parent. Until then, we can embrace the children in our lives and help to ensure that each day they spent in their blissful stage of youth is a memory worth cherishing. We can only do this by stepping up to the plate and taking hold of the responsibility of adulthood. If we don't arm ourselves with knowledge and the understanding of those serious matters facing our lives and world, we don't do the innocence of the young any favors. We only ensure that the world they will some day inherit will be fraught with problems that we didn't want to face. Is that the legacy we want to pass on?