Sunday, March 25, 2007

What is missing here

I read poetry four hours a day and have been involved recently with publishing poems. I don't want to get fatigued by it. Forgive me that this goes away from poetry as a discussion.

There seem to be two threads in the teachers' discussion as it evolved. One of the threads is set in Minnesota, so I'll chime in there, since I live there and grew up in the public schools there. When I traveled, first east then south, I had a few things to say about Minnesota: "Good schools, clean environment, and fine arts." In reality, I was glad to be setting off for faraway destinations -- to be leaving -- and if I were 18 today and trying to be "ambassadorial," I might say those things again. There was something then (maybe now) called "brain drain." The best and brightest, helped by a strong school system, left the state.

What I left out in remarking Minnesota was "violent boys," and that is hard to mention wherever you roam. After I returned, I realized that if our schools had taught sex education and say, the Civil Rights Movement, positive changes hoped for in the 60s might have come about. If they had taught sex education to the parents, a positive change might have come about. In junior high, boys grew violent wanting to see nakedness learned directly from Playboy, though pictorials in Playboy didn't represent violence. I had Our Bodies Ourselves and Ms. Magazine to educate me.

. . .

The western suburban schools collect money for education at the check-out at Target, thus creating the impression that they're going broke, as in reality some of the parents are, living in re-mortgaged housing and suffering lay-offs and divorce. Houses, including buildings that were there in my childhood, have increased in price tenfold since the early 70s. We have gambling. The divorce rate is sky-high, and most children (besides about a third?) are growing up in two (or more) apartments or houses. As far as I know, the schools are still not teaching sex education, and there is still no class in quitting smoking available to the young people. What there is, something we didn't have then and that I endorse, are Japanese and Chinese. The school three miles west of my house hired 12 football coaches. Sports were always a priority.

Most of the divorces I became privy to -- by attending various types of support group -- came about as a result of the pair's desire to have sex with someone or with someone else (1) or: (2) were initiated by women unhappy with their husbands' earning power. Marital cruelty, housekeeping, and money are the most common reasons for divorce, in that order. I have never been married and have turned down what amounted to five offers -- I asked for written proposals that described what our lives together would be like and an engagement ring. Never did I get that. The proposals came out sounding like "Come on up," (meaning 1,000 miles north); "Come on down," (meaning a 1,000 miles south), and "Come on over." The most recent one is, "Take care of me ceaselessly. I'm sick."

I visited IKEA today, and I heard a cluster of young people, perhaps in their early 20s, discussing whether one of them ought to be allowed to be around children, a joke, and I thought, "It's court talk. These kids' families were regulated by courts." Unhappy family life has resulted from almost everyone's ineptitude re: love and sex, and no amount of "therapy" will undo it. Flocking to non-denominational Christian churches has been one of the replies. Going by observation, I would say that sticking to an original or explored observance of a religion (or enlightened atheism) are best. If I were teaching sex education in the schools, I would teach that sex and marriage, though related, are separable. I wouldn't divorce to have sex. Or impeach a president for it.

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