Thursday, September 13, 2007

Turn the Dial

Two news items caught my attention this week, both of which are promising. Professional golfer Tiger Woods, the #1 player and one of the best known athletes in the world, announced that he will be taking a 2 ½ month break from golf to spend more time with his infant daughter. This is the longest break he has taken in his professional career except for injury, and it will mean missing the PGA Grand Slam, an event he has won seven times. Says Tiger, “I haven’t spent as much time at home as I would have liked.”

Granted, Woods makes $100 million per year and this is not an option every father has, but I am pleased with the message it sends. Consider: Woods is so influential that his apparel provider, Nike, plans months in advance the clothes he will wear in a given tournament because there will be a rush to buy those particular items in stores around the world the week after he wears them! At a time when some high profile professional athletes are mired in scandal and are inactive or absent fathers, this kind of public decision makes a positive statement that will influence cultural values over time.

And cultural values are what the second news item is about. Laura Ingraham, a popular conservative radio host and cultural/political commentator, recently published a book called “Power to the People” in which she calls attention to the sexual titillation and soft porn that increasingly is becoming mainstream in America. She lambastes the media for their complicity in this gradual degradation of civility, modesty and decency. She was interviewed on the Today Show this week and pointed out that the show led with a video of Britney Spears’ much derided comeback appearance on MTV’s Video Music awards, in which she wiggles and jiggles her way through a provocative dance and song routine in about 3 oz. of clothing. Ingraham points out two things: First, what does it say about a mainstream news show that it leads with this “news” item? And second, 20 years ago this kind of video clip would not have been shown on the Today Show, which considers itself “family friendly.” Change has happened so gradually that, like the proverbial frog in the kettle, we have not realized its severity.

Ingraham points to the Abercrombie & Fitch models, pre-pubescent boys with jeans pulled low and come-hither looks, or “clothing” ads showing an adolescent boy and two girls in a sexually suggestive group pose, and asks, “Is this the legacy we want to leave our children? Is this the world we want to leave them with?” Her questions are personally poignant because she has breast cancer and has begun to think more about the kind of world we are creating and our legacy.

I couldn’t agree more, and here is my challenge: What is your role in this? What are you letting your kids watch on television? What are you letting them wear to school? What are you teaching them by the shows you watch, the clothes you wear, the things you talk about, the values you hold dear? Here is some great news: survey after survey reveals that children and teenagers name their parents as their greatest influencers, ahead of the media, peers, teachers and celebrities. WE are the potters who shape the clay.

Boiling water doesn’t subside immediately, but it begins to when people put their hand on the stove dial and turn it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more! And for those of us who HAVE been battling to keep our kids from getting sucked into this type of "acceptable" lifestyle it has been extremely difficult. It was practically impossible to find clothing that wasn't revealing! Thankfully, it seems that the tide is changing ever-so-slowly and with a lot of searching, one CAN find some decent clothing. So maybe - just maybe people are getting tired of the garbage and hopefully stepping up to be a little more responsible in HOW we raise our children!

12:08 PM  

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