Fear Instead of Community

There’s something that’s been bothering me lately. It’s the way our culture has shifted to calling in the authorities rather than talking to people. The way we’ve shifted away from having communities where neighbors actually interact and kids play outside. The way we’ve shifted to living in fear and intimidating anyone who isn’t as afraid as we are.

I was reading an article about parents getting arrested for leaving a child in a car at a safe temperature in a safe location for less than 10 minutes. Not just arrested, but charged with felonies and severe crimes! That on its own is a concerning development. But I came across this quote:

We’re raising our kids in a moment when it’s easier to call 911 than to have a conversation.

That’s it. That’s the way things are. That’s what’s bothering me. We’re living in a world of fear, where we’re terrified of each other and don’t think we need to look out for each other. Where we’d rather see someone’s life destroyed for a poor decision that caused no harm to anyone.

Because this isn’t just about the fact that people will call the cops rather than have a conversation. It’s what the cops are doing about it. Rather than giving parents a slap on the risk and warning talk about the dangers, parents are getting arrested and children are being taken from their families. And not all cops are bad, of course, you also see wonderful stories of cops buying poor parents a car seat rather than giving them a ticket or taking the time to help a family rather than arresting a trespassing teen.

Things aren’t all bad, but a lot of parents don’t feel safe anymore. I know a woman who’s 8 months pregnant and is terrified because she fears that if she tries to turn down interventions in the hospital, she’ll get CPS called on her and her children taken away. Which may sound paranoid, but then CPS took away a newborn because her mother left the hospital “too early” and a woman had a baby taken by CPS for refusing a C-Section.

I recently saw an article arguing that our children are less free than they ever have been, likening the levels of restriction or children face to times of slavery. Thanks to the internet, I think that that’s complicated. In one sense- they’re more free to interact with people and learn things than any generation previously. But, physically, yes, many of our children are far more restricted than they were.

I recently visited a neighborhood that had kids playing outside. Wandering around without a parent hovering over them. Talking and laughing and just being kids. It was wonderful. My partner seriously talked about moving there, if we had the funds we would’ve been looking at houses. But it’s not nearly as wonderful as it is horrible- because it’s the first neighborhood I’ve seen like this in years. I live in a neighborhood with kids, and they never play outside. We have a big green communal yard and woods beyond it and the kids never play outside. They don’t ride their bikes.

I don’t like this change, but I’m not sure how we can fix it.

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