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Sometimes the world is horrible

At first glance, to someone living my busy-but-comfortable life, the world is a pretty nice place. The trees are green, the birds noisy but happy, the neighbours are friendly, the paper arrives on the lawn every day and food and drink are plentiful.

But you only have to watch the news to know that much of the world isn’t like that. There’s death and destruction almost everywhere. Even ignoring things like the road toll and domestic problems with drug deaths, some of the stuff that happens overseas is just horrific. People can be so downright nasty to each other in a way that I just can’t fathom sometimes.

When should I tell my kids the world’s not very nice? They know about Stranger Danger, but they’re going to need to hear about all the rest of it at some stage. That people are starving. (We do what we can.) That people are killing other people (and apparently enjoying it). That in wars (both just and unjust) innocents get in the way. I don’t generally watch the news when they’re around, but as they grow older, maybe it’s time to start.

Not that it’s all bad. The lady on the train with the crutch the other morning got offered a seat immediately. There are random moments of kindness that happen from time to time. And there are countless people out there doing good deeds. They deserve to know about all that too.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

2 replies on “Sometimes the world is horrible”

Do you really need to tell them anything, unless they ask? Let innocence prevail for as long as possible. They will slowly become aware. Just hope they don’t ask you why such things happen. Or is the point instilling a social conscience? They will learn that by your example as they grow older.

A friend of mine commented via email, and I found it quite interesting so I’m re-posting it here:

I was kept up to date on world events from an early age. I vividly remember Chernobyl – I didn’t see it on the news, I don’t think, but I remember Mum explaining to me that there was a radioactive cloud in the sky and showing me on the globe where it was and how it wouldn’t effect us. I got the impression poison gas was falling out of the sky at random all over Europe.

At school the next day I told people what had happened and the other kids who had family in Britain or Italy got really upset (this was 1986 when I was in Grade 1).

I also had lines like ‘children are starving in Ethiopia’ (and being shown on TV proof of that fact) as a reason why I should eat my dinner.

I’m still not sure whether it was the right parenting philosophy, but it’s what I got: encouragement to read the papers and be aware of what was going on around me etc.

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