eyes wide open

the second Jars of Clay inspired blog of the day….

So God bruise the heels we’ve dug in the ground
That we might move closer to love
Pull out the roots we’ve dug in so deep
Finish what You’ve started
Help us to believe

This song can take on multiple meanings I’m sure, but to me it means that we’ve GOT to find a way to get over our old fashioned/self centered/comfortable/blind views on the world.  We’ve got to eradicate comfort zones.  Basically, we’ve got to GET OVER OURSELVES.

The bible says “love your neighbor as yourself” but that doesn’t simply mean the nice person that lives right next to you.  Neighbor means everyone else in the world.  We are not called to stay within our communities and comfort zones.   Some take this to the FULL extent and travel across the world, but today, I want to challenge everyone to allow neighbor to mean the part of town that you often avoid because the people there are different.

“Different” takes on many meanings…

for some it means not going to the poor part of town, with housing projects, because its “not safe”…..

for others it means not going to the town where you’re the only person of your race ….

for some it even means going to the city and you’ve always been in the country….

for some it means something different..

but whatever it means, we have to be willing to step outside of our own little worlds (cue another song) and see the world as God sees it.  To Him, everyone is His child.  All of us.  and all of  “them”.  We are called to love everyone and to get over ourselves and stop separating ourselves.

We are not called to create and further an us-them mentality, yet as the church, we do it SO often.  It used to make my skin crawl with anger, but now it just makes me sad.  What makes me the saddest about it is how far it goes.  Yes adults make mistakes that cause negative circumstances in their lives (and family’s lives) BUT those kids in the situations that we allow ourselves to call “them” did NOTHING wrong.  Children have no play in how much their parents make or where they spend it.  Children have no play in their parents occupations.  Children have no play in their house choice.  Children have no choice in their skin color.  Yet, too often, I hear judgement made about children living in housing projects, children living in the bad parts of town, children whose parents do this or that, and i want to break down and cry.

We are called to love.  We are called to break down the barriers of judgement and hatred, yet we build them.  So I challenge you.  The next time you drive to “that” part of town or see “them,”  think about the children, and think about how your judgement of their family affects them.  Then, STOP, change your thinking, see those people the way God sees them,  see that neighborhood as simply another neighborhood without your opportunities, and do something about it.  We were ALL created equal in God’s eyes, we are all GOD’S children.  So we need to stop building walls and start tearing them down.  We need to get out of our comfort zones.  What does that look like for you today? What does it look like for you to get out of your own little world?

root issue: add/adhd

ADD/ADHD….overdiagnosed?

Today in psych we talked about these two “disorders” and their relation to school and just to children’s basic lives. In elementary schools today, 1 in every 9 boys is diagnosed with one of these disorders and is being medicated for it. This is WAY too many children. The question is asked “are there really this many children with ADD/ADHD or are we simply overdiagnosing America starting at the youngest age possible?” While I do believe that attention disorders exist, I do not feel that this many children suffer from them. I feel that these disorders are overdiagnosed as a cop out. It is much easier to diagnose a kid and give them some medicine that will make them sit still than to actually figure out what is wrong. Whether their environment needs improvements, diet changes need to be made, or there are problems within the home environment, its much easier to just medicate a kid than to fix the root issue. While I feel that refusing to look at and discuss root issues stems far into adulthood, I’ll focus on that in a later note.

Today’s children are being screwed by the system, by medication, and by today’s culture and no one is doing a damn thing about it but everyone knows its happening. At a young age, these children are diagnosed and medicated. This poses several problems. First, these children are just at the age when children begin to label each other, therefore, these children could feel like an outcast or ‘different’ or just simply have their self esteem lowered. Also, these children could see their diagnosis as an excuse for certain behaviors. Also, the medication has not been properly tested in longitudinal studies to see what long term effects mentally, physically, and emotionally the medication will have on them.

Outside of the child’s mindset, adults see this diagnosis as an excuse, and as a cop out. Too many parents will attribute every behavior problem to ADD/ADHD and refuse to spend time with their children or talk to their children and discover the root issues. (I think I’ll write a book entitled Root Issues about the fact that America refuses to acknowledge them). A child diagnosed with these disorders will simply be medicated and the parent will feel that all of the problems are solved.

Teachers. Teachers are already in a tough enough position as I am constantly learning. First of all they are the most underpaid position in America. They build the foundations for many children’s futures and are paid barely enough to allow them to live above poverty. They put in countless hours outside of school grading papers, developing lesson plans, working on behavior issues, and sometimes even playing surrogate parents for parents who refuse to psychologically nurture their children. Teachers are forced to find magical ways to cater to each child’s differing zone of learning (area at which they are mentally capable of comprehending knowledge) and each childs different developmental stage. In the midst of all of this, teachers have to deal with behavior problems from children. Whether the child simply acts out, is socially aloof, does poorly in class for whatever reason, shows clear signs of abuse, or just causes problems amongst the class, the teacher has to deal with them, all at the same time. Once children are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, they may be medicated which sedates them to a zombie like state where they can pay attention but are clearly not themselves anymore. Although this gives the teacher a break from dealing with the crazy child, this is not the answer.

Too often though, this is the decision that is made. Education systems are underfunded, parents are overworked, and politicians don’t care. If we simply fund the education systems more and fix the environments that neglect certain children while catering to others we may be able to help these children. If the culture we live in encouraged parents to spend more time with their children and actually know them, we would have an easier time. If the economy was not in such a sorry state thanks to our lovely president, parents would not be forced to work their asses off to meet the minimum level of living. If society did not have such a gap between the upper class and the rest of us, things would be better. But all of these things require effort, time, thought, and looking beyond our own noses, something too many Americans cannot do. Its sad. Fund the education systems, get off your high horses, and focus on todays children. No Child Left Behind was the sorriest excuse for a fix which actually screwed up the education systems more than anything. Worst idea in the history of American education.

While this was meant to be directly about ADD/ADHD, I hope I’ve exposed a deeper issue, the root issue, is the need for a quick fix rather than a real fix.

Stay tuned for how this root issue has screwed up other aspects of our society…