by: Lee Pitts

Their future has been mortgaged, the government has a lien on their life and their parent's principles are in the pawn shop. We have a second mortgage on their spirit.  

If today's youth can run the gauntlet that is our society by defying drugs, teen pregnancy, school shootings and suicide they have an equal chance of going to jail, or off to some war-torn country most of us couldn't even find on a map to solve the world's ills. We have made getting an education so expensive that when they graduate they are handed a diploma and an overdue bill.

How would you like to be a young person today?

Today's divorced parents work two jobs in an attempt to give their kids everything they had. Except real parents. We gave our kids sneakers that inflate, bikes with 21 speeds and computers that communicate better than we ever did. But we failed to give them any heroes.

Some of their heroes died from drugs and others from a four letter social disease. Other role models were killed off by the network news. Today's media does a good job of tearing down someone to look up to.

We all had heroes growing up. Gene Rambo, my grandpa and Mickey Mantle were mine. I had number seven's picture on my wall and his fake autograph on my baseball bat. At ten years of age I didn't know Mickey drank or caroused. Nor did I need to know. Maybe the heroes we worshipped as kids didn't deserve our respect, but they helped give us hope. Now, Mickey is dead from drink and Pete Rose is in the Hall of Shame instead of Fame.

I can remember growing up and wanting to be President of the United States. But that was before Presidents were put under a high magnification microscope, put on trial, or became unindicted co-conspirators. Good heroes are hard to find.

Children no longer want to grow up and be policemen, firemen or cowboys either. Probably because television has taught them that cops beat up black men, firemen start fires and cowboys destroy the environment.

Sports have always provided a steady stream of heroes in the past. But that was before spoiled brats who couldn't hit a hanging curve were paid ten million a year, except in those years they were on strike or in prison. It's hard to admire someone who complains about making more in one year than most folks make in a lifetime. Besides, we can't all be seven feet tall or run like the wind.

Teachers and preachers? Don't be a sucker. The crack cocaine dealer on the corner makes more money and commands more respect. Drives a better car too.

When asked, "What do you want to be when you're grown up?" most inner city kids today will answer, "I want to live long enough to be grown up." They just want to dodge bullets long enough to turn twenty.

If young kids today have any heroes at all they are apt to be animated toy action figures or profane rappers who sing about killing cops. Sometimes those doing the shooting command more respect than the cops being shot at. These "heroes" of today are leaving no lasting legacy. The only chance of today's heroes achieving immortality is to have a drug or alcohol rehab hospital named after them.

Sadly, kids today can abandon their wistful, youthful ideas about idolizing their father. He split the scene a long time ago.

It seems to me that this country would have a much brighter future if more grown-ups would live their life as if someone was watching. Because someone is. A child. Be a hero.

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