It’s a question that has long puzzled our politicians and bureaucrats. And that question is: why do we have a booze-culture country? Why are so many of our youngsters so keen to try drugs? Why are young drivers racing the streets in souped-up bangers at 100mph and whacking straight into trees?
Well, I have a theory. And the theory is based on the fact that you reap what you sow.
When I was a kid I had a cart made out of wooden planks and the wheels from a pram. My mates and I quickly discovered that if you go really, really fast down a hill and you haven’t planned ahead or applied the brakes, you are going to get hurt. What’s more, the faster you go, the more it hurts.
By the time we took to bicycles we had already learned that lesson. We knew that heart-pounding thrills were a good thing, but that there were consequences if you pushed the limits.
And life was full of thrills. There was games of “knifie”, lighting fires, suicide rope swings, long bike runs, river swimming and climbing trees. A building site was a place to be explored – particularly if it had scaffolding.
These were all activities that added to the realisation that getting your kicks was part of feeling alive, but we had also been bumped, broken and grazed enough to know that there were limitations.
When we were old enough to ride motorcycles or get behind the wheel of the car we could enjoy the experience, though it was tempered with the knowledge that we were not immortal, and that the human body does not bounce.
Youngsters today have been starved of these thrills thanks to litigation and Health and Safety; and therefore starved of these lessons. They have been brought up in a cosseted-in-bubble-wrap environment where they even have to wear goggles to play conkers. Trees near playgrounds are cut down to ensure kids don’t climb them. I ask you!
It’s a world devoid of adventure and excitement. So, when they get a bit older, who can blame our youth for seeking out the thrills they were robbed of as young tykes? The result is experimentation with drugs and drink. They get in a car, feel the thrill of speed, and keep the pedal to the metal.
We have been so safety conscious that our kids have grown up but their life-experience has taught them naught. They are unscathed and unbruised. And, having grown up without learning the painful lesson of the balance between thrills and consequences, they are running full-tilt in an attempt to find that thrill of unfettered adventure of which we robbed them.
Our meek mantra of ultra-safety in everything has returned to haunt us. And it’s killing our kids.