The Very Best Things in the World
A recent poll in the U.K. revealed that children view the "very best thing in the world" as being a celebrity. The poll of 2500 children showed that good looks and being rich came in at two and three ("God" came in at 10 after families, friends, pop music, and watching movies). Killing and wars made the top two "very worst things in the world" (followed by drunks, bullies, illness, smoking, stealing, divorce, being fat, and death-which took tenth).
Unfortunately, not much is different across the pond. Kids here in the U.S. believe the "American Dream" is to be rich and famous. While many celebrities have overcome obstacles and pulled themselves up with nothing but extremely hard work, this is not what is getting through to our children.
The "Reality TV" genre has produced some of the highest-grossing and most-watched shows, making people famous for the most stupid actions. Whether or not you watch the show. Everyone knows the naked guy from Survivor-though the name may slip your mind. Everyone knows (at least about) William Hung, Kelly Clarkson, and Clay Aiken.
While Kelly and Clay and the like have worked their tails off getting to where they are (not to mention a having been given a good dash of natural talent), others are famous for the most idiotic reasons. Some people are given celebrity because they eat cow anuses or pig eyeballs or live maggots. Some people are given celebrity because
Even those who had celebrity and lost it are trying to get it back. Take Brittany Spears, for example. In the course of a month, she is divorcing her husband of two years (and father of her two children), leaving her two month old son at home and getting drunk, partying, and forgetting to wear her underpants with short skirts.
We as a society have to ask, "what is this doing to our children?".
Well, just watch the first weeks of American Idol, which begins in January on FOX. Hundreds of thousands try out for one million-dollar contract. Only half (if that) of those standing in line for days should even be trying out. Simon is villainized for speaking what mothers and fathers would never dare to do. We all have a good laugh at those who think they can sing, but can't carry a tune in a bucket. But my heart goes out to those 17-year-olds whose mothers take them down and talk them up to the cameras only for their child to fail miserably. These children-whose only sin was to be given a bad voice-are crushed and mothers are outraged. But what do they all say?
"We'll try again next year."?
"I guess it wasn't meant to be."?
"Now she can focus on your studies and become a doctor."?
"I guess you need to work harder."?
"Simon is an idiot!"
"My girl / boy sings like an angel!"
"*&^% #%^ #%& #&%^#% #(&*^%!"
"Simon / Paula is going to eat his words when I'm selling more records than ______!"
What about "My Super Sweet Sixteen" on MTV? Girls are made famous because of a now-inconsequential birthday. Impressionable children are being shown that it's a parent's job to sit back, do what their child wants, and are only good for paying for the party.
So what is the very best thing in the world? What should we steer our children towards? What is the American Dream?
For everyone it is different. But each American Dream, each "very best thing in the world" has a few things in common:
You have to work for it. Only with hard work and determination can one accomplish what one sets out to do.
Many times, the best thing in the world is something intangible. It's family. It's God (whatever god you may believe in). It's the feeling of accomplishment.
The American Dream is not handed to you on a silver platter-no matter how much we would like it to be. Rarely does anything just simply get handed to you, and those to whom it is handed don't appreciate it anyway.
Our children have lost sight of these important things. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them to our sons and daughters-because the TV sure isn't.