Marquis de LaFayette was born 1757. He was a friend of Jefferson, Hamilton, Franklin, and Washington. He was commissioned an officer in the musketeers at the age of thirteen. He was made a captain at eighteen. He later was made a major general at nineteen. His marriage was arranged when he was thirteen.
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet is thirteen years old, in love, making love, and dying. Soldiers around the world are taking up arms and dying at such young ages. It was thus in our own Revolutionary War.
I remember riding down the road, sitting on my dad’s lap and steering. It was long before I was ten years old and long before I could reach the pedals. All of the boys in my neighborhood drove long before we were sixteen. Farm boys drove trucks loaded with hay and tractors when too small to properly reach pedals. They drove because they were not yet big enough to throw the hay onto the wagons.
At eighteen, we were grown men. We were treated as grown men. I got a job as a carpenter. I was serious and competent. At nineteen I was hired to manage the construction of shopping centers in the northeast. We were allowed to drink 3.2% beer at the age of eighteen. We all drove cars that were bought with earned money. We all were serious, competent, and capable men long before our eighteenth birthday.
Now, in America boys are not men at sixteen, or eighteen, or twenty. They ride in car seats until they are twelve, a year before LaFayette was made an officer. There are so many excuses; “let them be children” “let them have fun”, yet they enter life and the work force so poorly prepared. They have so much catching up to do. Many never catch up.
We treat them as incompetent, and, therefore, they are. We treat adults as children, and, therefore, they are. We make excuses for their youth when they are long since grown men and women.
When does a man become a man? When does a woman become a woman? It is not societies decision, nor the decision of parents. It is for each of us to decide when we are ready to shoulder responsibility. Certainly, we are capable long before we reach the age of eighteen. In a society, so flawed as to allow a man to take up arms and fight in wars, still denying him the freedom to have a beer if he should live through it, we have distorted even manhood and womanhood. Our government, any government will only fail at such dictates. It has always been so. It always shall be.
We owe our children the freedom to grow at their own pace, to take responsibility and risk of their own volition, unencumbered by the failing memories of the old, or the incompetent understanding of government. Our children have been denied freedom by our government’s intervention in our lives, and, indeed by ourselves. Our misguided effort to protect is foolhardy and is contrary to a people who value freedom and personal responsibility.
Frank Martin, S.C. head Basketball coach says it well; “You know what makes me sick to my stomach, when I hear grown people say that kids have changed. Kids haven’t changed. Kids don’t know anything about anything. We’ve changed as adults. We demand less of kids. We expect less of kids. We make their lives easier instead of preparing them for what life is truly about. We’re the ones who have changed”.
Parents, not any government, County, State, or National, should decide what is right for children. Parents must again take the responsibility of raising their children. Nothing, handed down as a mandate of a government has ever succeeded at nurturing or at teaching a single child. Our government has overstepped its bounds and it needs to get its filthy fingers out of our homes and families. Safety is a fantasy. It is used to control you, to control your children, to control your family. It is a tool of totalitarianism. Those who fear can be manipulated. It is better to live a short life free, and to die early, than to live a life as a prisoner of another, or as a prisoner of misguided rules and laws, which seek to control your every action.
Children deserve a father and a mother, love, and trust. They deserve to be treated as responsible men and women. Children deserve freedom, as do we. They deserve the freedom to be who they wish, to make mistakes, to spread their wings. They deserve to be allowed to have free thought and to grow, and to flourish or to fail with the family close by, not as police, but as support.