A phenomenon born of three seismic forces of change…
Thousands of years of agriculture married 95% of the population to the soil. In less than a century the miracle of Industrial Revolution reduced agriculture to 5% in the U.S leaving 95% dependent on the industrial world. The new economy witnessed the first decline of the economic and social units that were the mother centered extended form families – the backbone of culture for centuries.
The new age of machines demanded expansion of education, albeit training for a new and different work force. Public education exploded from the three R’s to eight, then twelve years and beyond. The prolonged years of schooling separate from the constant adult interaction– somewhat unnatural – absorbed prime hours of each day and the majority of youthful years. This created a new dynamic – the school peer family. Students freely empowered their collective values and opinions– the new dynamic was born. Mid-20th century observers coined the phrase “The Generation Gap.” This was a challenge to the older generation.
The third weakening of the traditional biological family were the repercussions of the long 20th century crusade for Women’s Liberation. This was the struggle for well-deserved rights and freedom to equal those of the male gender. It delivered unexpected results.
Women’s opportunity to pursue alternative roles in society and/or to escape unfortunate circumstances created an epidemic of divorce and one parent families.
The result in recent decades has been injury to a portion of school youth, psychologically orphaned by their biological family. The haven that once provided support and comfort was no more. Moreover, the family dynamic that energized the role and status of every member became a vacuum. To compensate, many students have gravitated to the school peer family for status and role. Humans are social beings. Everyone requires family like four walls against the winds of the world.
Denied acceptance, ignored, rejected, or abused by peers, albeit on a daily basis is social suicide or worse. Sociopathic or psychotic behavior resulting in outrageous violence becomes probable. We are now in the storm. Technology has not replaced parents’ monumental task of rearing a child to adulthood.
The controversy over the 2nd amendment is testimony to changing human behavior. Firearms, whether ancient or modern, are passive, they must be acted upon. It is the nature of the changed activist that must be the focus of our concern.
Technology, the offspring of science has transformed the face of the world including the biological family. The task of rearing a child, teaching values and providing support has been violated– there is no short-cut. The nature of at least the latest generation has been altered.
It is shocking and foreboding for the future to recall not long ago. Shotguns were brought to lockers for hunting after school hours. Imagine that.
Alvin Toffler–the understated futurist and prophet–author of Future Shock and the Third Wave said it best, “We have created a new society of different people.” Perhaps we have tampered with something sacred. What now?
George T. Cerrigone
Submitted for publication to the Kettle Moraine Publications by the author.