November 7th, 2009 21:30 EST
Youth is Seeded with Roadside Explosive Devices
My partial list of the courageous in a posting asking What Is Courage? now strikes me as partial in the sense of having been partisan. I included the elderly, the ailing, the poor, the discriminated against, and our soldiers and sailors, but I neglected the young.
In the cold light of morning I recognize the horror of this exclusion. For me, if there is reincarnation, the prospect of being young again is fraught with dread. My youth was a daymare, as the memory of it now is often a nightmare. Being old is much easier.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 24. The first three methods used by young people to kill themselves are firearms, 46 percent, suffocation, 39 percent, and poisoning, eight percent. Survivors are marked for life in countless ways, not least by post-traumatic stress.
In 2008 there were 128 confirmed suicides of Army personnel and 41 of Marines. American military personnel are taking their own lives in the largest numbers since records began to be kept in 1980.
Nothing in my own life elicits my surprise at these statistics. After 10 years in a boarding school and three years in a violent alcoholic home I found Navy boot camp a piece of cake. I can`t count the times I`ve heard a distraught young mother in a mall saying something like, Are you gonna get it when we get home! to a child. Get what? The child`s just desert for being a child? Whose home? The mother`s, not the child`s, because she has already warned the child that home is an unsafe place, as it probably was for her.
And what of the platitudes with which we poison children? Pick yourself up by the bootstraps, Take it on the chin, Keep a stiff upper lip, Be a man, etc. All bunk parroted generation after generation so that we don`t have to listen, to see, to make the world safer for children, to respect them. They are often as inconvenient to us as global warming or any of the other elephants in the room we choose to ignore, such as the plain fact we live in a piratical society where the rich are getting richer and everybody else is getting screwed.
That violence begets violence continues to be a lesson we would do almost anything not to have to learn, especially committing more violence. Governments that impose death penalties will always find it easy to send their young people to war and will always find domestic violence, rape and child abuse inconvenient. If you`re a Christian, you might consider such governments Old Testament governments as opposed to New Testament governments, but even the most cursory familiarity with psychology suggests that a violent government sanctions violence by its own acts. It says, Do as I say, not as I do. And we know how that works.
Children are often bothersome precisely because they are so attuned to such hypocrisy. They actually expect adults to live up to their blather and they`re disillusioned when adults don`t. Their innate common sense tells them hypocrisy is an offense to order. We expect them to ignore forensic evidence that hypocrisy is the order of the day, the prime directive.
The young simply do not have the armor we acquire with experience, and our authoritarian education model is determined to knock out of them their vestigial gifts, such as clairvoyance and intuition. We impose a mechanistic pedagogy that abuses them emotionally, and we are light years from admitting that verbal and more subtle abuses can be even more damaging than physical abuse.
Given these circumstances, it`s not hard to see endless war as our destiny, for we are breeding angry, damaged people. I could go on, but I have no right, no credentials. All I know is what I myself suffered and what I read in order to come to terms with such memories as a near-lynching, rape and molestation. And, above all else, denial.
Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.
The pioneering Online Originals (U.K.), the only online publisher to receive a Booker nomination, published his novella, Alice Miller`s Room, in 1999. Recent fiction appeared in Prima Materia (Woodstock, NY), vols. I and IV, and Breakfast All Day (London, U.K.).In his younger days his poetry was published in literary journals including Solstice (England) and Beyond Baroque and Phantasm (California). Recent poems appear in Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review (www.arabesquespress.org), Perpetua Mobile (Baltimore), and Attic (Baltimore). He is the English language editor of Arabesques Literary and Cultural Journal (www.arabesquespress.org).
He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.