3 S.R. Johannes: Whatever happened to..."It takes a village"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Whatever happened to..."It takes a village"

How did we become a society that does not appear to accept responsibility for anything but ourselves? When did we drift away from a holistic world into a fragmented one?

Now, our village has been overrun with the "not me" and "it's not my problem" people.

Last night, I went with my husband to see "Pirates of the Caribbean II". (Yes, we are late seeing it...but when you have a 2 year old, you are just happy to see a movie before it hits On Demand.) In between munching on 10$ Twizzlers and sneaking my feet on the back of the chair in front of me, a high-pitched squeal suddenly pierced the silence and floated through our stadium loveseat. Irritated at the disturbance and interruption of my disfunctional need for the perfect movie experience, I leaned forward and scanned the audience daring anyone to look back, claiming the noise.
In my thorough investigation, I spotted a small ghostly figure floating through the aisles, once again squealing.

Had a ghostly pirate finally escaped the delicious Jack Sparrow?

No! The shape was but a 2 year old girl, dressed in white dress (keep in mind it is not yet Labor day). She was running amok the chairs, in my mind, hiding in fear from the loud, enormous, and frightening images flahsing across the super-sized screen.

I leaned over to my husband and whispered, "how can parents bring a 2 year old in here?" I mean the bizarre Octopus Man alone was eerie enough but what about the emotional impact of 100 million decibels combined with disgusting barnacle pirates? I mean they scare me and I am 30 (ok 35 but who is counting?). My husband only shrugged, hoping to save his perfect movie experience by diffusing my potential "externalizing".

For the rest of the movie, I forgot about the sexy Johnny Depp (what!?) and obsessed about the psychological impacts the movie could be having on this innocent cherub. I became preoccupied, wondering how the images could forever-change the patterns of this small child's blueprint of life.

At the end of the movie, I felt compelled to bring this disturbing notion to the manager's attention. I was not upset at the interruption as much as the situation. And somehow (especially as a mom), I felt the need to stand up for this anonymous little girl whose parents had seemed to brush her off as nothing more than a movie annoyance, a mere interruption.

Against my husbands "we should just walk away" look, I marched in and politely informed the manager about the situation. The manager's response disturbed me so much, I am still saddened by it today.

Me - "I was upset to see a 2 year old in the movie. It was completely inappropriate and was disturbing for a child of this age to see."

Manager - "Ma'am, we are not responsible for children entering movies as long as they are accompanied by an adult." (I am not even going to address my thoughts on being labeled as a ma'am.)

Me - "But, the movie is a PG 13. I thought everyone who viewed it had to be at least 13?"

Manager- "No, anyone that is not 13 only needs to be accompanied by an adult."

Me - "Even a 2 year old?"

Manager - "Yes. If a parent takes a child that age into a PG or R rated film, it is not our problem."

Me - "But don't you have some responsibility?"

Manager - "I can let our corporate office know."

(Gee, thanks. Nothing like a couple of grey suits to save the day.)

So, how did we get to a place where we take no responsibility for anything outside our own walls. When do we stand up for something that seems wrong and do something about it? I am tired of people sitting back, humming the tune to "it's not my problem."

I left feeling dejected at how much our society has changed just from when I was a little girl. I kind of liked living in a time where we all believed that "it takes a village to raise a child." A time of casseroles, pot luck dinners, cul-de-sac parties, neighborhood watches, buffets, and chaperones. A time where we not only cared about who our neighbor was, but also how we could help them. A time when we were not afraid to join in neighborhood matrimony coined with "can I borrow some sugar" or "cup of tea?"

I believe we have a responsibility to reach out to our neighbors. We need to not be afraid to speak up and confront atrocities that impact our society. After all, I really do believe that "children are our future". I know it seems a little Whitney Houston-ish but it feels true nonetheless.

We do have a responsibility to others.

At least, in my village we do.


Tony and Clyde said...

There are many opportunities here to interject satire and wit in the hopes of allowing you an opening to laugh at yourself, but it seems somehow inapropriate to poke fun at the death of morality in our society. I believe that is at the root of the issues you have outlined here anyways. Who am I? I like dogs more than people, I like Whoppers, I tend to make jokes at the worst possible times, and I'm the first to comment here.

Anonymous said...

I am very impressed that you stood up for that little girl. I'm embarassed to say that I would be one of those "caring" adults that would've groused and grumbled about it but would not have done anything...