Lost Are The Days

This is inspired by my work with a large group of 8-12 year old girls at a National Youth Sports Program camp put on by the Portland Police Activity League. Because the majority of these kids are from lower income households, they are considered “at risk” for becoming involved in gangs, prostitution, drugs, and the like. These kids are rough around the edges out of necessity, but when you see them smile after teaching them how to swim, or after mastering their free-throw shot, the innocent child that is buried due to survival shines through.

Lost are the days of free innocence.

The carefree existence that should

belong to every boy and girl is lost.

Lost beneath the lies that the pursuit

of money is the same as the pursuit of happiness.

Lost and drown in the insistence that selling

your morals, beliefs, family and friends,

even your body,

for a quick buck is the best

life, the coolest life.

Lost are the values of modesty, honesty, and encouragement.

To cheer someone on is lame,

to encourage and compliment another girl is weak.

Disrespect, lying, anger, and insults are the

ultimate sign of strength.

Many adults outside of the situation say:

“What is the matter with these kids these days?”

Adults familiar with the situation have said:

“Where are the parents?”

Lost are the days when kids can wander

around freely during the day,

and come back to a strong

structured home at night.

These kids are lost

in their survival mechanisms,

not because they want to be,

but because the world has taught

them to distrust everything.

Where did those days go?

When adults looked after kids,

and taught them right from wrong.

“They” say this world has gotten busier,

so does that automatically mean

that the future leaders of this world

should be brought up being exposed

to all the ugly and horror

the world has to offer,

yet none of the comfort of a loving adult

to explain and shelter the worst of it?

I should not have to explain

to a 9 year old girl

that when I tell her she is

strong, and beautiful, and deserves respect

from everyone,

that I’m not joking,

and that she really can

do whatever she wants to,

she just has to believe and work hard.

Lost are the days of the true American Dream.

The dreams of this generation are to get rich quick.

Real dreams and aspirations of being

pro-athletes, doctors, singers, astronauts, and international superstars,

are quickly cast aside by these girls,

because it would be “too hard.”

Lost are the days of little kids being encouraged to dream,

and to work towards those dreams.

Sure, not all of these girls

are going to grow up to be the next,

Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Mia Hamm, Mother Theresa, Maya Angelou, or Mae C. Jemison.

But if we don’t let them try,

how will we ever really know that?

Lost are the days of lifting up the youth.

These kids are amazing.

They have endured more in their short lives

than anyone should in their whole life.

As a world we need to get together,

and encourage all our kids

not only to dream,

but to work hard for those dreams,

because that is the only way

the future of this world is

going to get better.

That is how we are

going to rejuvenate the morale

of humanity again.

Let kids know that smiling and laughing

aren’t signs of weakness,

and the whole world

will brighten.

Lost are the days of lifting love.

Let’s go find them.