Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If This is Progress, Then...

Now I know why old people feel scared. I’m feeling scared. We used to laugh at the old saying, “Just when I learned how to play the game, they changed all the rules.” At some point, however, rules change so drastically, that the new set of rules is really frightening. Now I suspect rules have been changing at the same pace for as long as rules have been changing, but we old guys have seen so many rule changes that we get to the point where we have seen enough.

What are these rules? As best I can tell, rules are based on a society’s values. Those values change and adjust over the years and only those with long memories can think back far enough to realize the drastic changes that have occurred over a lifetime.

I hit one of those points recently as my newspaper editors (I am faculty advisor for our school newspaper, The Harriton Banner) and I have been dealing with the issue of stress in schools and the so-called “study drugs.” Our last issue covered the school reaction to our report that study drugs were being used in our school and our next issue will cover parental reaction to that article. During one of our editorial meetings, we were trying to size up the different kinds of parental reactions that might be identifiable. One of my editors said that she was convinced that stress in school came mainly from parents who look to give their own kids a leg up on other students. When we see a student taking too many classes, being involved in too many programs, and in too many sports, it is likely that the parents are behind such a drive. It does not, then, take a huge logical jump to conclude that parents might be OK (explicitly or implicitly) with their kids taking these study drugs.

The room was silent.

Then The New York Times reported that parents are having their young children genetically tested to find out what sport they might be good at. Yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer reported that a group of scientist are concluding that taking study drugs is OK, and it can be a benefit to both individual and society.

As a young man, I might have said, “What the …?” Today I am scared. I am scared of the value being advanced here. I am scared at the hyper-competitive society in which I live. I am scared that this is just too much. Is there any going back?


Don said...

Physics offer some hope: pendulum's swing.

And...biology offers hope:

Biological systems seek a point of equilibrium.

And youth offers hope:

Silence, "You've gotta be kiddin'!" and WTF!

Peter said...

Silence speaks louder than words, sometimes. People need to time to accept what they realize. Funny how that works.