The real ghosts…

Recently, there was a stabbing in a high school cafeteria in Texas.

Because of a shoulder bump…really?  Was that really the cause?  Maybe for them it was, but I am looking for a different discussion here.  I’m looking for the discussion that looks for cause, because I believe it is only from that discussion we can truly move into doing something about what we discover.

Have you ever paid attention to the young people in your world?  Yes, you may say, you love your children. But do you really look at any others?

It is my observation that the young people in my neighborhood are virtual ghosts to adults.  We do not look them in the eye.  We do not speak to them.  What we will do is automatically think ill of them.  The Black and Hispanic kids are gang members, of course.  All are lazy and up to no good.

And it does appear to be somewhat true.  There is escalating violence and declining test scores and climbing dropout rates.  But are these young people at cause or are they a symptom?  Are they the fallout?           

IT IS EASIER TO BUILD STRONG CHILDREN THAN TO REPAIR           BROKEN MEN ~ Frederick Douglass 

I believe they are the fallout.  I believe what they do is the result of buying into “things” as the definition of success.  I believe they are the symptom of looking outside of ourselves for happiness…so far outside of ourselves that we leave our children at home, while we go in search of something to fill that empty place within us.

Why do we feel so empty, that who we are isn’t enough?  How did we get taught this?

I believe it is because we are also taught to look for God outside of ourselves.  Our parents are told, through our religions, our cultures, advertising and more, that perfection, happiness, wholeness, Divinity, lies anywhere except within ourselves…and they continue the cycle by passing it down to their children.  They don’t know any better.  If it doesn’t make sense, don’t question it…it’s a matter of “Faith,” one of the things that mere mortals will never understand, that mortals should never understand because we are so sinful, don’t question…or you will find yourself separated from that God you are already separated from forever.

But there is an uneasiness growing, isn’t there?  More and more you see even the strictest of religious persons conflicted in their beliefs.  Men like former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who believes in the moral imperative for war, now believes that his lesbian daughter is still lovable, and good.  Life and real people in our lives are putting reality in conflict with what we have been told about being separate from God and contradicting what the rules of God are…and the love of real people is winning out.

Could the reason the love of real people is winning out is because it is as God always intended?  Could it be that the vision of the bloodied bodies of hatred of all kinds is breaking our hearts?  Are we seeing that if it can break our hearts, it is quite likely not what God wants…and just might be offensive to Her?

How do we change this cycle?  How do we stop our young people from doing things like stab another to death in a cafeteria?  I believe it is quite simple.

Look at them.  Talk to them.  Engage them fully in your life.  Be there for them.  Don’t expect others to entertain them for you…play a game with them, take a walk with them, talk to them, listen to them.

It seems futile to me to expect children to spend their first years being ignored, and being treated as not yet fully worthy because they are not 18, or 21, and yet, at that magic numbered age they are somehow expected to know how to fully engage in society.  A teenager is told they should act more adult, and have adult consequences for their actions…but are treated like children in the very next breath.  This world exhibits over and over again how little they value children, enslaving them, beating them, indoctrinating them, putting guns in their hands, starving them and more…yet we still claim that the future lies in their hands, and they are our hope.  How can this possibly be?

Our hope, does, indeed, lay with our children, but we must first give them hope.  All any of us desires in this life is to be seen.  It is where we put context to our self image.  Yet we have ghosts wandering our streets looking for someone to see them, because their parents won’t.  I don’t see these parents as bad parents, by the way.  I do see them as not knowing a better way.  Maybe we can all teach each other a better way?  In the total scheme of things, aren’t we all just children looking for guidance and inspiration?

(Therese Wilson is a published poet, and is the administrator of, and Spiritual Helper at, the global website at www.cwghelpingoutreach.com  She may be contacted at: Therese@TheGlobalConversation.com.)

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  • You raise some thoughtful issues here. I would guess that it’s even more so than you suggest for teens. Plugged into their ipods, iphones reading, playing games, texting on whatever tech device they have, they are clearly in their own world.

    Yet so are many adults, with or without those devices. Most people pass by don’t acknowledge those they pass by, simply because they have things to do & places to go & up to their ears in busyness. This is not necessarily being unfriendly either, just simply on the go.

    Now, if they are a leisurely retired adults, taking a stroll that’s a different pace. People on a Sunday stroll most likely have time to acknowledge & even chat as others pass by.

    For me I’m rarely bothered when people simply pass me by teens or adults, although I’ve had teens & adults remark on my creative attires,– be it wearing formal long black coat with a green Gumby smiling in the breast pocket, or a colorful coat from Nepal or large Russian-isgue fur coat.

    At the same time I can get into some short but great discussions on street corners or @ local grocery & drug store with people & clerks, both superficial & profound. When people want to engage they usually go to places specifically to do that don’t they?

    While I love to engage people at whatever level of engagement they are at, I make it a priority to be as peaceful & happy & spread it outward. If I’m less than that, that’s okay too.

    I’m not addressing the parental part of your article as I’m not a parent. Yet you make a good point to simply to engage people more & that’s a good point for sure.

    • Therese

      Marko, I am not referring to people who choose to be in their own little worlds…those worlds can be quite enjoyable!

      I am referring to those who can not look others in the eye, out of fear. I am referring to those who will/do not look at a teenager or young person as having enough value to look them in the eye, and engage them in even a superficial conversation…a conversation that never the less tells that teenager that they are seen and valued.

      • Right, I just don’t consider myself that kind of person. I guess that’s why I didn’t see it that way & missed that emphasis.