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Teach Confidence, Not Hysteria

Posted on Tuesday, December 27, 2022
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by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
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Teaching hysteria is like eating your seed corn; when you need what you had, it is gone. Today, we are slipping, spending money belonging to future generations and teaching hysteria – eating our seed corn. Rather than modeling calm, confidence, appreciation, and gratitude for sacrifice – “the long view” – we seem content to indulge overreactions. Examples abound, leading nowhere good. Time to reverse course.

In my younger days, I was unsure about lots of things, but had confidence that adults – older folks who walked slower, talked slower, and acted responsibly, many WWII and Korean War vets – knew the score, were keeping track, and had my back. They did not panic, or pretend panic was good.

Today, what have we? We have adults shrieking that climate change will end humanity in a few generations, if not a few years. We have national leaders – who know the world is not ending – quick to shut down schools, leave kids in isolation, bankrupt businesses, and fan fear rather than be calm and teach confidence and the fine art of fear management. We have foreign policy amateurs speak freely of war, including nuclear.

All that is wrong, unnecessary, and misdirected, leading younger people to think the wheelhouse is empty, wheel spinning madly, everyone preparing for end of days, that craziness is normal. It is not.    

We have media – print and broadcast journalists – no longer content to serve as unhurried purveyors of truthful information, no longer interested in sowing and reaping public trust, but quick to seed dissension, accept distortion, play activist, stir riots, sell disgust, and live with distrust.

Rather than studying the style and compass of probing, public-spirited, uncompromising – sometimes stunningly unflappable – journalists like Ernie Pyle, Bill Mauldin, Walter Cronkite, Howard K. Smith, Edward Morrow, Walter Lippman, and William Buckley, we watch journalists play to polarization.

On the social media side, what can you say? We see this new institution – filled with potential for serious dialogue – twisted in odd directions, coopted and politicized by corrupt actors, undermining problem resolution, pushing anxiety, fear, distrust in democracy, emotional zings, zaps, and tweets.

Older Americans take this clatter-trap with a grain of salt. They have seen what real crises look like, from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Middle East, Cuban Missile, and Cold War to stagflation, presidential resignation, market collapse and regeneration, to 9-11.  They know good times outweigh bad, with perspective.

But what are we teaching the younger generations? The answer is a bizarre, misplaced default to hysteria, anxiety, and dystopia, a fear bordering on always-almost-here-apocalypse, a state of unease instead of calm, nerves not inner peace, impending calamity not implacable can-do.

Where we wondered, worked, and managed to wrestle the unexpected with lessons learned from future-focused generations that preceded us – and from our Nation’s history, much of the “Gen Z” kids seek refuge, excuses, and escapism. Rather than turning into the wind, they run from it.

If you think this unfair to them – or to those of us whose turn it is to teach – just look at the level of hysteria and inborn stress kids carry.

One recent story – a national poll – revealed that, after Roe v. Wade was reversed, 37 percent reacted to the national hysteria with near panic, many saying they would have changed colleges (to a different state) if the decision had come earlier, some saying they needed to leave the country.

On climate change, 41 percent call it their top fear. At the same time 83 percent of those 14 to 24 have “anxiety” over the issue – with one in three saying it keeps them indoors, one in four saying it affects their concentration.

Corroborating these numbers, and equally shocking, a recent Blue Cross poll puts the number of “Gen Z” kids in trouble for mental health at close to 80 percent, much of this driven by fear of climate change.

Meantime, 24-7 coverage of terrors associated with COVID-19 wracked “Gen Z” with fear, to the point where 42 percent of “Gen Z” are now diagnosed with a “mental health condition.

All of this points to a major failing – a failing of what are now America’s older generations, those who presently dominate, define, own, or lead in the critical fields of education, journalism, politics, law, medicine, and any others interacting with younger Americans.

Rather than teaching calm, confidence, peace, perspective, and can-do, or at least rational, non-emotional recourse to logic, facts, life history, and the nation’s historic – and highly successful – attitude to crisis assessment, management, and resolution, we have conditioned many to fear and folly.

As 2023 approaches, thinking beyond the present it appropriate – but in perspective, with hope not hysteria, faith not fear, a sense of passing forward lessons we learned long ago. The sky is not falling, the world is not ending, time has not ceased, and nor will it soon.  

Needed is a resolution – to teach common sense, uncommon calm, management of fear not surrender to it, conservation perhaps but not panic, thoughtful action not overreaction. The best history is made with gratitude for sacrifice, presence of mind, commitment to action, not anxiety, not being forlorn, not eating our seed corn. It’s time to reverse course and replace hysteria with confidence. We can, we must.

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Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Teach:
Hands On
Simulations
Field Trips
Guest speakers
Games
Motivate

PaulE
PaulE
1 year ago

RBC,

Society in general is being rapidly conditioned to stop thinking, but rather react in panic mode or hysteria as the media and many in Washington and elsewhere scream “the sky is falling” about everything almost every single day.

Simple things like snowstorms, rain storms or even some transitory and relatively unimportant bad news in the markets is so over-hyped. What used to “It’s winter and we get periodic snowstorms. Some worse than others.” has morphed into the news anchors screaming “We’re facing an arctic vortex that will bring once in a generation snowfall, that is worse than anything I’ve ever seen in my life time. More proof that global climate change is getting worse, so we have to kill the economy and go back to a pre-industrial era society.”

I’ve also seen the same thing when it comes to economic news. What used to be “Fed hikes interest rates and this of course makes home mortgages more expensive and thus home sales will slow down as fewer people can afford mortgages.” has morphed into news anchors shouting “Today Powell hiked interest rates again! Just like he said he would months ago! Stoking fears that we will see another repeat of the 2008 housing bust leading to a near collapse of the American economy!”

It’s all the equivalent of screaming fire in a crowded theater every 5 minutes to get and keep the public in a near frenzy state 24×7. Most or at least some older people see this constant fear mongering for what it is and just tune out the incessant noise from the talking heads in the media and politics. The issue is a lot of younger people have never been taught by their parents or even grandparents how to discern intentionally crafted hyperbole designed to incite fear or panic for compliance purposes from real information versus noise you can disregard. That is the responsibility of the parents or grandparents to address. Young people won’t get that from their teachers in school, as most teachers are part of the crowd intentionally stoking hyperbole 24×7.

NewDay
NewDay
1 year ago

Very good article. The fact is that fear controls people and makes some people rich.The young need to realize that they are being manipulated. I have been amazed over the years how climate change has become such a big focus for so many. Young people haven’t experienced the good ole days when we had scorching summers and bone chilling winters. It was climate change and it’s nothing new. I wonder what excuse the scientists will use when climate goes the opposite direction in 25 years?

Rik
Rik
1 year ago

Progressives ARE real life Chicken Little’s screaming: “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!”

anna hubert
anna hubert
1 year ago

Teaching confidence would leave all the councillors and therapists unemployed and safe places empty Like encouraging people to leave the plantation I don’t think it would go well with those who know the best

Laura
Laura
1 year ago

How can the young learn from the past when history is being erased and not taught? And fear forces people to turn to big (brother) government. That seems to be the plan.

Nick
Nick
1 year ago

So you didn’t live through the Red Scare, the McCarthy trials, bomb shelter mania, Japanese internment camps?

RBart
RBart
1 year ago

It seems using the term “eating our seed corn” is not useful in this discussion since the generation being talked about has no idea of what the term means. This is another subject sadly left out of education nowadays. No understanding of the world around us is allowed. Only wokeness is allowed and integrated into every other subject. Useful information is met with the response, “useful to who”. Is it any wonder our kids are lost and fearful? They are not being given the tools to deal with the real world. Only what they are supposed to think and believe. A sad state that began 60 years ago.

David Millikan
David Millikan
1 year ago

Excellent article.
Teaching hysteria instead of logic and to think for themselves is why our children go ‘DUH’.
As I said, this is how your children become SLAVES. Not kidding.
WAKE UP!

GTPatriot
GTPatriot
1 year ago

Teaching confidence requires critical thinking skills and debate. Not critical race theory.
It requires knowledge of basic ( not unusual) facts about our history and our government
structure. It requires a drive to improve. It requires goals. I’ve already eliminated about 90 % of youth with these requirements.

Esther
Esther
1 year ago

I really needed this article today. Thank you. Sometimes I feel like these are the kind of things I always wished I could hear from a parent or grandparent, but never did, until now.

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