Recollections of a kid growing up in America:
We were safe from all but ourselves. Moms worried about pedophiles and trained us appropriately, but we were regularly told: “Go play outside!” Which we did, on our own unsupervised, all day.
Nor were we confined; we roamed far and wide, often accompanied by our dogs. Unleashed. Entire neighborhoods were accustomed to seeing the local progeny in troops, wandering by. And all the local housewives knew every kid; any untoward behavior resulted in a phone call to one’s mom, with unwelcome consequences.
Thus, we learned – taught each other – socialization and our shared culture. We didn’t know that we were doing that, of course. But what we learned remained into adulthood. And because we learned it on our own, among ourselves, we became self-sufficient, independent people.
We learned too, that if we wanted anything requiring group approval, we had to compete for it. Among us there were no entitlements. If you were small, clumsy or stupid, you walked at the back of the pack and endure the abuse of the stronger and smarter as a price of belonging. That was just how it was.
That has changed. Now, parents that send kids out unsupervised are sometimes arrested for neglect when the police or a neighbor notices. Kids are pushed into organized, adult-supervised activities where the adults, not the kids, make the rules. And small and weak and stupid are guaranteed equality by the supervisors.
There are naturally, nonconformists who push their kids into the older patterns in spite of popular disapproval. There is an organization for parents who raise “Free range kids” today. But don’t expect police or local child services departments to applaud. American culture has hanged. As a ‘free American citizen’ a parent had best change with it or have a very good lawyer.
Japan continues to feature free-range kids. Their society is, among other things, safe. We of the once Christian West ave abandoned the moral behavioral patterns of our past; the Japanese have not.
We note that the once ‘free range kids’ grew up and went out and created American civil and wealthy society. We note as well, that today’s America seems less civil and less wealthy. In decline, even.
We end asking: If we cannot govern ourselves well enough to assure our kids enough security to play outside, knowing that was attained in our past, where are we heading? And Why?
We leave those questions to you for answers. We believe that we know the answers well enough, but we do not like them very much …