Archive for May, 2014

186 – “Limits and Love”

Monday, May 19th, 2014

By Hetty Gray


May 19, 2014


As a country music fan, I have enjoyed the series “Austin City Limits” over the years. Good music with a great “beat” and clean lyrics is more than fun for me — it is refreshing. When taking a close look at major network programming these days, I recoil and take heart that I am not monitoring the content for children. I would not want that job.

Egad! Current “sit com” plots are base in nature and feature more sexual content than I ever saw as a young married person, let alone a teenager or a child. Racy then is considered mundane now. It’s as if each producer tries to outdo the competition. Whether the programs feature human actors or were presented as cartoons, the content is more than I would have wanted for my sons when they were children.

Consider the boy or girl with little or no supervision in the home. What of the child living in a home sans a father? If there is no limit to what a child can witness, there is no limit to the damage done to his or her psyche. After all, if the old saying, “Monkey see, monkey do” holds, the risk is more than clear. It is absolutely chilling.

In my opinion, people of my parents’ generation are rolling over in their graves when it comes to the content put out by today’s studios. It is pure discontent that fuels my anger.

When I was a little girl, male actors exuded images of strength, courage, and sensitivity. They were role models for boys and daydreams of future husbands for girls. (Yes, little girls once dreamed of growing up and getting married!) In the 1940s and 1950s here was no gratuitous violence splashed across the big screen. Oh, yes, the bad guys bit the dust, but moviegoers did not see the blood and gore. Good won out over evil. More importantly, evil was not glamorized. Punishment was swift and sure. Deeds had consequences. Oh, if that only held true in real life today — let alone film.

Before children begin school, many have seen so many deaths on television and in the movies that they have a stilted view of the value of life. To devalue life in such a way is unwise. However, such a desensitizing of the youngest of us is beyond unwise, it is dangerous. To impressionable minds, characters don’t die. They just reappear in another movie role.

Sadly, the only children who know violence for what it truly is live in neighborhoods riddled with drive-by shootings and gangs. For some families, there is no choice to move. The long-term damage to children who witness death and fear their neighborhoods is incalculable.

And then we have the video games….

How many of us can forget that the Columbine shooters honed their marksmanship on video games? Game titles are enough to stop you in your tracks — that is, you have the stomach to read them. Slow down at a store and take a look. Images will deepen your disgust.

Oh, the kids love these games, but the raw and graphic content arouses suspicion and fear in clear-thinking adults. It’s entirely too easy to plop a kid in front of a television set or a computer and go about household duties with no conscience as to what they may we watching.

Again, it’s my age that kindles this animus. To most young folks, we of the sixty-plus set are out of the loop and do not understand. I worry that we understand all too well. After all, the risks of exposing children to violent images and prurient lyrics are proven daily on the streets and in the juvenile courts across America. Every freedom includes a responsibility. So, where is the responsibility of those who grow rich selling such products? Absent.

Today’s music is loud. So was ours. The music of the 1950s and 1960s, with few exceptions, included lyrics you could sing and not end up grounded or choking on a mouth full of soap. Nobody sang about killing policemen or brutalizing women. Some songs recounted car wrecks, like one by the Everly Brothers. But most song lyrics simply tugged at our emotions, describing first loves and broken hearts.

I realize that we cannot return to the days of the “Golden Oldies,” but sometimes I just wish my grandchildren could have a bird’s eye view of the fun we all had when we were growing up. In truth, I lament that America did not carry forward the morals of those days. Maybe, as a generation, we were sheltered; but we were allowed to grow up slowly.

We seldom witnessed any kind of violence as little ones. Our lives centered about school and church. So much is the pity we cannot say that for many of the kids today. Sadly, youth athletic activities are scheduled on Sunday, further diminishing the impetus for parents to take their children to worship services.

Our generation had limits, but limits balanced with love. Our parents cared about us. For me, what stands out most is the support for the widows of World War II and Korean veterans. These wives and mothers had to take on rearing a family alone. It was a common thing to see churches and school organizations pull together to help these women and to guide the children.

Unwed mothers were not only rare in my day, but the whole situation branded the girl with an identity that stuck for a lifetime. “Love and marriage, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage” were more than words to a song; they were the order of the day.

We certainly cannot say that for many young people today. Single parenthood is so rampant that it seems to be normal. Consider all the ads featuring a woman and children. It’s as if the theme should be “The Missing Man.” Today’s kids expect thrilling entertainment no matter the venue. Imagination is something for others to showcase, not for kids to use. Clearly, there doesn’t seem to be any limit to what today’s children can see or hear.

In truth, this lack of supervision does not apply to all children. There are parents are out there who do care. They monitor what their children experience. However, considering the increasing crime and disappointing graduation rates, something needs to be to encourage parents to value and push the merits of getting a good education. But that’s fodder for yet another column!

Where is the balance for many children today? I fear it is absent. Think about it.

Once a mother…”

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

By Hetty Gray

# 184-A

May 9, 2014

“Once a mother…”

May 11th touts mothers, natural ones, adoptive ones and stand-in ones — those women who look out for children ahead of themselves and move heaven and earth to protect them.

Today, when mother around the world writhe in agony over suffering children, hungry children, and threatened children, we must not forget those mothers in Nigeria whose daughters were kidnapped by the fanatic militant Muslim group Boko Haram. Muslim society is well known for mistreating women and relegating them to low status. Among their practices are forced female circumcision (without benefit of anesthesia), burying to their necks in sand and stoning to death women simply accused of adultery, honor killings of young women by family members — often by their own fathers

I have one question. Where are the feminists in this fight? Although I often disagree with some of the women in Congress for extreme views, I must agree with those who come forward demanding that something be done about Boko Haram.

It is interesting to read that former Secretary of State Clinton did not designate this group as a terrorist group. Just what kind of depravity must a group engage in to warrant her condemnation? Maybe someone should ask.

I must refer to a comment by a Purdue military history professor. There is no such thing as partial victory. You either achieve complete victory or no victory at all. Again and again, the world community witnesses a repeat of prior horrific deeds.

Apply Boko Haram’s military strategy to it. Eliminate it with no mercy. Remember, it also makes it a practice to gun down Christians and murder innocents by the hundreds. Simply droning a leader does no good. Followers label the dead leader a martyr and another quickly steps into his place.

This Sunday when you, or any of the women in your life, enjoy a child’s hand made card, open a gift, or sniff a wonderful bouquet of flowers, please take a moment to remember those mothers across the world lacking basic respect and freedom to rear their children in safety.

Some claim that, worldwide, people are the same. I counter with a clear comparison. Consider the cry “Women and children first!” In the Western world, that cry is to save women and children first. But, in the Muslim world — especially among militant Muslim groups — men place women and children directly in the line of fire. Oh, these men put the women and children first, but first to die.

Pray for the world to come together to find these kidnapped young girls, return them to their mothers, and — most importantly —destroy the evil afoot in Nigeria. The world community must set an example for any other group that would plan such evil acts. Militants only understand force. The world must exert a crushing defeat to their evil ways.

There are differences among cultures. What’s more, there are differences in the way women are treated. Every day should be the Mother’s Day we know. Think about it.