Kids, youths, young uns, the tomorrow people, should be regarded as the most important people on earth. Everything that is done in our places of power should be firmly aimed at preparing the way for our children to step into an improved world. Improved by comparison to that which surrounded us when we re indeed the tomorrow people. Can we really step back, pause, consider, and reach the conclusion that WE have been successful in this aim? I put WE in capitals because it really has been our responsibility, we can point the finger in no other direction. There is no more important a challenge than this, we have had 20 centuries to get it right. Have we done a good job?
The world is a big old place, we have a third world, I often wonder where are the other two? I will be selfish here and look at the kids of the UK, the 21st century kids of the UK. Let us define "kids" for the purpose of this piece. I will class "kids" as being toddlers right up until they step into the world of work- assuming that they do in fact do that. Most kids arrive into the world via the NHS in this country. I did, you most likely did. Every child arrives spluttering and crying into the world on an equal basis. They are all unaware of the ills and highs and lows that lay in wait for them. Right from their very first breath they are coddled and looked after by the best that can be provided. That is a generalisation, there are exceptions, some UK kids are born out of reach of our standard top class medical care but this is actually rare.
I want to try and avoid turning this piece into another political assassination job, I see providing for children as beyond that, a basic humane reflex action, or it should be. Is it though?
What happens once the new born leaves the sterile confines of the maternity unit? They go "home". Home, it is easy to picture a nice semi on some leafy avenue. Doting parents and home visits by medical staff. Early spotting of any potential health problems and along with that sound advice for the parents at every turn, again, this equates to the best that can be provided being provided. I do not have the means to calculate the cost of this whole project of delivering the baby right through to the home visits ceasing. Having worked in a Maternity Unit, and spent many shifts in a NICU I should imagine it runs into tens of thousands of pounds. It seems to me that all of a sudden, those in high places are seeing the cost as out weighing the moral responsibility, that being the most basic humane responsibility of all. This scenario is coming under increased financial threat. Make up your own minds as to whether or not that is the correct way to go. Far too many newborns now go home to inferior housing, in far too many cases there is only one parent. This raises the spectre of the baby not getting the best food, or clothing, or environment in which to flourish.
We are left with a single parent, in sub standard housing, unable to earn the money to provide the best for the baby. This has become all to normal now. The best of the best stopped at the maternity unit exit door. I know there are a million reasons as to why this has become the way. Let us move on a few years. The baby enters the world of education. I am assuming that this child , with one parent for its entire life up to this point, goes to an average school in a council estate. The child is straight away condemned to a meaningless life. Chances are that this young one will be given an ordinary education, drift aimlessly along with the rest of the flow. I am not being critical of the school or the teachers here. They will all do their best, they simply will not have the means at their disposal to alter any of the inevitable outcomes. The young one will be acclimatised to all this by seeing the same all around. Many of the other kids at this school will be of the same background. It is the modern 21st century UK grey of nothingness. The wrong postcode, the wrong school, the wrong template from which success has any chance of being the outcome. click here
Let us assume this kid is not the brightest. Not particularly slow, not particularly quick, just another ordinary school kid. Hampered by the enforced lack of opportunity that is all around. Let us call this kid Lisa. Slowly Lisa reaches the age where she can take on board the stuff in the news. She hears about bombs, she hears about many deaths at pop concerts, she hears about the local superstore closing, she hears about the Walk in Centre closing, she hears about her school losing some of the money they use to provide a hot dinner for everyone, she hears that there will be no more school trips.
She hears that her auntie who has been taking care of her since her mum died is going to lose some money because she has a spare bedroom. She becomes worried because lots of her friends have mums and dads who work at the superstore.
Lisa gets ordinary results in the exams. Lisa wanted to be a Vet. Lisa will not be a vet. Lisa will be an unknown person. Lisa will find a shop that wants somebody to say hello with a smile while wrapping burgers and sandwiches. Lisa will earn the least amount that is legally payable. Lisa will not get a whole weekend off for year after year. Lisa will never own a house or flat or anything you could call your own home. Lisa will never own a car or visit a far off country to lay on the sand and laze about.
One day, when she is just twenty Lisa will get the bus to the Cemetery, to her left a headstone with the words "He made the ultimate sacrifice" to her right " Loving Mother", Lisa will stand with moist eyes, looking at the grass and feeling sick, then she will sigh and walk away to start her shift at the shop. One of her old friends will call in, and tell her that they should catch up some time. Lisa asks how she is doing? She tells her she knows a way to make a good few quid on the side. The conversation closes with Lisa being told that as she has the looks she should use them??
Lisa takes the bus home, on the way it passes the closed superstore and the maternity hospital. A couple are coming out with a little bundle. Lisa hopes they live across the other side of town. Where the houses have gardens and there are shops with nice things in the windows. It occurs to Lisa that once the baby leaves the maternity unit things become very harsh very quickly, she resolves to never have a baby.
This is one possible life for one of millions of young people in the UK in the 21st century. I am not at all convinced that this is the best that we can do, nor should it be seen as acceptable. If we cannot look after our young properly then we are not evolving as we should. It seems to me that our modern "throw away" society now includes the meaningful lives of our children. I have not touched upon the less developed countries.
We have, as a race, an enormous amount to be truly ashamed about. Here is a somewhat idealistic thought, cancel Trident spend it on the kids.