By Bill Fox/Columnist
Last column I mentioned I had an article featured in the Jan. 1, 2000, Millennium edition of the Toronto Star entitled, “My 10 hopes for youth and their parents.” Last column I did the first five hopes, and today I complete the last five.
- That television and the media realize and hold themselves accountable for the influence that they have on our youth and act accordingly. Some years ago, Toronto hosted the WrestleMania annual spectacle. As part of the show, a wrestler supposedly kidnapped an opponent’s wife, tied her up and put her in his car trunk, and then was seen holding her over a bridge presumably over an express highway as part of what I call this “male soap opera.” I found this dramatization extremely offensive. If parents were watching this program with their young children, they would have the opportunity to explain that this is just a show. Today our youth are inundated with pornography and values that their grandparents would have found nauseating. The sad part is that there is no filter for some of the violence and sex that our youth are exposed to by the media and the Internet on a daily basis.
- An old Indigenous saying goes something like: “When you spit on the ground, you spit on yourself.” If we take this a step further, we realize that what we do to our neighbours we do to ourselves. In an effort to cut taxes and trim the budget, the first piece of legislature passed by former Premier Mike Harris and his Conservative government was a 20 per cent cut to welfare payments. No suitable advanced warning was given. I wonder how parents today would cope with being told that your pay cheque next week will be 20 per cent less? Too bad the politicians were not given a 20 per cent pay cut as well.
- That hopelessness among our welfare recipients, street people and young people is lifted away. In my brief encounter with the Refuge, a local drop in centre for troubled youth in our city, I found that many of the youth were without hope. Similarly, if one were to poll students in some of our high schools, you would find it disheartening that less than half of them have no plans for their future. Many seem to be living for today with little hope or realistic aspirations for their future, and thus we see the rise of youth problems.
- That our youth grow to believe that the impossible is possible. Many of us old-timers never thought we would see the end of the Berlin Wall, nor the end of the Cold War between Russia and the U.S. Who would think that a young cancer victim would unite our great country by trying to run across Canada on one leg? Thank God the Terry Foxs of this world never listened to those of us that would have told them their ideas were impossible. It is a known fact that Einstein was four before he spoke, that a newspaper fired Walt Disney because he had “no good ideas,” that Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade, and consider these quotes: “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” said Harry M. Warner president of Warner Brothers Pictures in the mid 1920s.“We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out,” said a Decca Recording Company executive rejecting the Beatles in 1962. “640K ought to be enough for anybody” said Bill Gates in 1981.
- That each morning each and every citizen in our area awakes happy, hopeful, and confident that today will be better than yesterday. What more can we hope for? What more can we work towards? But that is another story. I’m at bdfox@rogers if you want to share the hopes you have for youth and their parents.