Saturday, October 10, 2015

Collegiate Age of Anxiety: "Stranger Danger!!"

Apparently, Letters to the Editor of The Ventura County Star published on line do not appear in Google searches. I will therefore immodestly post them on this blog. Under the shorter title "Age of Anxiety," this letter appeared in The Star for 9 October 2015.

Collegiate age of anxiety

REFERENCE: "A call to action after devastating campus events" by Luis Sanchez, President of Moorpark College, Star, 27 September 2015.

            In a column in the Star for September 27, Luis Sanchez, President of Moorpark College notes that "Many of America's college students today live with acute anxiety" partly because they grew up post-9/11, with its shattering of the "illusion of […] security" and how "The horrors of global terrorism, international discord, and even domestic strife have assaulted our children relentlessly through the Internet and […] smart phones […]."

            President Sanchez tweaks the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15.3-7) and ends with "the shepherd who delivers 99 sheep safely but loses one to the wolf" and how "our joy for the 99 is overwhelmed by our grief at the loss of the one."

            Today's students and more important the parents of today's students grew up in an America of "Stranger Danger!" in which usually well-meaning people have worked effectively to assault parents relentlessly with images and stories not of the figurative one lost sheep in a hundred but far smaller percentages of kids abducted and murdered by strangers, lured into drug addiction or slavery, attacked by sharks, molested by sexual predators, killed in home invasions, or gunned down in their classrooms.

            Americans generally, and journalists particularly, do poorly at risk assessment. Advertisers, marketers, and propagandists for an array of causes — many quite worthy — competently manipulate psychological weakness that can render us "overwhelmed by our grief at the loss of the one" child in a hundred thousand or more, underrating both the safety of most middle-class kids and everyday insecurity for poor kids.

            Many American college students should be anxious and non-clinically depressed because their elders are putting them into debt and not providing decent jobs when they graduate; but too many "live with acute anxiety" because they grew up with parents kept near-constantly anxious and afraid.

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