Monday, June 25, 2012

Child Abuse – How Many Ways?

This past week there were two high-profile jury decisions regarding child abuse in Pennsylvania. In both instances persons held in high regard and trust were found guilty. In both instances it appears that the high regard gave them what amounted to a “free pass” to do as they pleased – one was pleased to be the originator of abuse, the other was pleased to hide behind a chain of authority. Granted the cleric did not actually engage in physical and emotional abuse, but did that make him less culpable? Considering that the cleric was supposed to be representing God it is, in some ways, all the more sad; and to hear a defense that amounts to, “I wasn’t authorized to do anything about it” puts one in mind of Nuremberg.

As I said to a coworker in response to another matter, “This ol’ world is full of pain.”

Is the person who looks the other way also guilty? Is the person who enables the perpetrator through silence also guilty? Is the protestor who, silenced the first time, refuses to speak out yet again also guilty?

Thirty or fifty years from now will these be criminal actions?

Fifty years ago much of what we expose children to today may have been criminal, and if not explicitly criminal it would have certainly been deplored by society. Fifty years ago much of what we expose children to may have been considered child abuse, today what was once irresponsible and perhaps criminal is the norm; so who knows if fifty years from now the crimes of which these men were convicted will be crimes.

The Federal Department of Health and Human Services defines the abuse of children in part as: Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance.

Some of the many definitions on the HHS website are straightforward; some can be a slippery slope. If we take the above definition of emotional abuse (this is only a part of the HHS definition) can we ask ourselves whether what many children are exposed to on an ongoing basis via the media and entertainment industry constitutes abuse, for it certainly affects their emotional development. Of course if our view of humanity is that we are the products of time plus matter plus chance then we have the conundrum of what is right and what is wrong and how there can be any right or wrong outside of our immediate personal needs. To expose children to sex and violence, to introduce those images and words into their hearts and minds to live in them for the rest of their lives and therefore to influence their character and relationships – is this not abuse? But of course it is abuse sanctioned by economics and social engineering and by the adult world’s desire to justify its own moral and ethical and spiritual and economic promiscuity. And let not the individual family decide that they will not expose their children to societal toxicity – otherwise the peer pressure of both adults and children will come into play…and we certainly don’t want little Susie or Johnny to feel different from other children. So we become like the recently convicted cleric in that we have an excuse, “What was I to do? Everyone else was doing it and I couldn’t have my child growing up “different” from those around her.”

An adult society without shame without shame exposes its children to the shameful.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Last weekend we visited the Ladew Gardens in Hartford County, MD; it is considered my many the be the finest topiary garden in the United States. It also has a number of other gardens on the grounds - somewhere around twenty in all. During our visit our paths crossed and recrossed a threesome; perhaps a husband, his wife, and his mother? They were on the house tour with us, were in the cafe for lunch the same time we were, and we saw them throughout our walk through the gardens. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

You Never Know What You'll Find

When I got home Friday what should I find in the back yard but a....

I'm not sure but I think it was our neighbor Seth Revere.

You never know what's going to come out of the woods! The circus must be in town.

If he doesn't move soon the hummingbirds will be all over him.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fledglings and Other Folk

We love watching fledglings; they are so perplexed, hopping here and there looking for food, trying to figure out what they are supposed to do. The little Cardinals don’t know that there is food in the hoppers, so they hop here and hop there with the Mourning Doves not realizing that above them is sunflower seed.

There are a couple of wee baby chipmunks, one lives at the base of the tree that holds the squirrel feeder and the other lives in the herb garden by the house. The other day when the squirrels were gone from the feeder the little tyke ran up and down the tree to the glass feeder to snatch a kernel of corn per trip, up and down, up and down – oops, there is a squirrel there now, better turn around and go home.

The animals and birds generally don’t bother each other. Most birds don’t bother the chipmunks or squirrels, nor do they bother each other. The chipmunks and squirrels don’t bother the birds. Of course they all need to beware of hawks and cats – predators don’t just fly over Pakistan. When Lily and Lina are out they provide some protection from cats for they know what belongs in their yard and what doesn’t.

There are a couple of Flickers who enjoy the suet, but the Blue Jays don’t enjoy the Flickers on the suet, however, try as they might the Blue Jays can’t intimidate the Flickers to leave – they just ignore the Jays. Tis true, the Blue Jays can gang up on other birds at times, but they are nowhere near like the Crows and Starlings – those gangs are positively obnoxious, and the fact is that the Jays are good to have around when the Crows show up for a concentrated gang of Jays can induce Crows to take a flight pattern out of town.

So we’ve got aggressive birds and peaceful birds. I wonder if the Mourning Doves are Quakers, they are nonviolent.  When the Redheaded Woodpecker arrives for lunch at the suet everyone gives him a wide berth, he is a loner who can take care of himself – the other birds don’t even make eye contact with him.