Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Abstinence & Knowledge

A good word is abstinence. It can keep us from overindulging, or take us away from something harmful altogether. But when it comes to teaching teenagers about sex, abstinence is hardly the word that will make them sit up and take notice. A vow of abstinence from a hormonal teen is more easily broken then a condom.

Knowledge. Another good word and one that holds more opportunity for kids than abstinence.

Sex, outside of marriage, and dare I say even within the bounds of marriage these days is a risky behavior. I remember telling my children that sex could kill them, as they were embarking on their teen odyssey about the time HIV/AIDS was making headlines daily. I did, however, give them the information which they needed in order to make informed decisions. The key word here is knowledge.

Not so today. It seems we have a part of our culture which is all but denying sex even exists and we are headed back to the day of the stork and the cabbage patch. There is more controversy about Sex Ed in the country's school systems than there is about what sorts of subjects kids will truly need in order to make their way in life. The two hottest curriculum topics in this day and age are Sex Ed. and Creationism. This is a truly very sad state of affairs.

I live in what has been termed the bluest of the blue states, a state about which a US Senator is going so far as to claim we were responsible for the cancer known as pedophilia to matastisize throughout the institution of the Catholic Church. This is lunacy at it's height and reminds me of the old saying, be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear. Living in my state and being a liberal is not a disease. As far as the Family Values crowd goes, let us take a look at what our blue state family values show us.

We do have sex education in our schools, we do acknowledge gay marriage , we have the highest rate of education in the country, and we have the lowest divorce rate in the nation (whereas the Bible Belt has the highest divorce rate...2.4 per thousand in MA. and 4.1 in TX.), and we truly live our family values.

My state, for overall births by teenagers was 7.4 for MA. and 16.1 for TX. As for our feckless leader's home state of TX. we see a 101 to national average of 84 This is a state where abstinence only is highly promoted and misinformation abounds.

To be sure, to inform your children yourself should be top on the list for knowledge of such things as sex, pregnancy, etc., but there are those parents who feel that given this information their teens would be more apt to engage in sexual behavior. This is simply not so. Children who have no information or mis-information get themselves in trouble. And we are seeing this more and more now with the sorts of non-intercourse sexual activities teens engage in. Because they are not doing "it," after all, they feel safe. If they had received information about STDS and HIV/AIDS they would understand, but most feel a vow of abstinence, apparently, only means not doing "it".

As far as Gay marriage goes, unlike the Senator from Pennslyvania, I do not feel in the least bit threatened by it. It is not a threat to any marriage or the institution thereof. Has a gay couple threatened to undo all heterosexual marriages? If you are heterosexual and you wish to marry, no gay marriage will be an impediment to your choice. I cannot for the life of me see how anyone could feel that it is. What I do see as their perceived threat is that one more opportunity to discriminate against a group of individuals may be falling by the wayside. Every ethnic group has gone through their trial by fire to achieve their piece of the American Dream, none more so than the African American community. But civil rights are civil rights and no segment of this society should be without the protections and benefits enjoyed by every other person. Gay marriage does not lead to beastiality, another ludicrous statement generally made by those who should know better. Fear must be a very uncomfortable bedfellow.

It seems we may once again be faced with the possible striking down of Roe v. Wade if Sandra Day O'Connor's replacement is imbued with the spirit of the right wing neocon agenda. I remember when it was declared that abortion should be legalized. Out of the back alleys, and sure death for so many women, and into the legitimacy of the health community. It might not be my choice as it would not be for so many others, but at least I know I have that choice. As for those who cry about the sanctity of life, I have yet to see them holding signs up outside abortion clinics indicating that they would be willing to adopt the child they feel is in danger. And as much as they may spout their Bible verses, they still fail to comprehend Jesus message of acceptance, tolerance, love and respect.

Some things are a given. The more education you receive the better you are able to make informed choices. You will probably marry at a later age, have children at 30 rather than 18 and have an established career making money commensurate with your knowledge and skills as opposed to minimum wage. Liberals are the true compassionate conservatives. An investment of time and knowledge with children pays off tenfold in the end.

So I urge you to take a look at some of the issues which are paramount in the minds of many today and see just how knowledgeable you truly are about them.

The 10 Commandments "sculptures" which adorn various town greens in different parts of the country. Worth fighting to preserve? These were actually placed around the country by Cecil B. DeMille to garner interest in his movie The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston. So for those who think Hollywood is a den of liberal socialists, maybe you want to rethink the 10 Commandments thing...hmmm?

"10 Commandments - Go Forth and Multiply. What's up with all the monuments to the Ten Commandments around America? How come there are so many of them? "In the 1950s, Cecil B. DeMille teamed with the Fraternal Order of Eagles to kick off donations of 4,000 6-foot granite tablets depicting the Ten Commandments to municipalities nationwide. For DeMille, this was great advertising for his epic movie 'The Ten Commandments.' The Eagles, which kept the program going at least into the 1960s, declared it a way to fight juvenile delinquency." (Los Angeles Times 08/26/03)

The words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Worth fighting to preserve? These words were not an original part of the Pledge, which was not even written until the 1890's, by a minister for a boy's group. Eisenhower added the words in the 1950's after heavy lobbying by the Knights of Columbus.

In God We Trust on our currency? Worth fighting to preserve? That phrase did not appear on the currency of this country until the Civil War years. The initial suggestion was "God, Liberty, Law" that I might fight for!

So I hope you all will abstain from fighting for causes of which you have little knowledge, because a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.