By Arianna Maysonave
Wall Street is crumbling on the brink of budgetary crisis, more than a million American children fall asleep with an insatiable ache for sustenance, and over 1.4 million individuals filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009. With 7.2 million dollars spent daily on the foreign war effort and 4.2 million U.S. citizens facing a full year of unemployment, the political and economic climate of our nation churns in a state of chaotic flux.
But for adolescents blessed to spend their youth in this idealized Valley of the Moon, life appears relatively uninfluenced by the economic upheaval. Individuals naively meander through their lives, focusing on the here and the now rather than pausing to acknowledge the presence of a collective struggle.
Being raised in the picturesque and secure town of Sonoma manifests the glorification of less fortunate regions. Children are sheltered from the angst of the outside world in a naturally sound environment nourished by a convivial community.
They are granted the opportunity to harvest tomatoes from their family garden, bicycle at sunset, plunge into the local creek, and take pleasure in the recognition of more than one friendly face at the traditional Tuesday night farmer’s market.
However, this reality ceases to exist beyond the confines of small-town security. There is a world of distress, anguish, and neglect silently lurking past the glistening valley hills. Recently, even Sonoma has been plagued by a dose of this ravaging economic turmoil– individuals have been robbed of their homes, deprived from employment, and forced to seriously reevaluate their spending tendencies. Family businesses and self-employed individuals are struggling to remain afloat in this inflated financial environment. Die-hard community members are refusing to support larger institutions such as Staples, a recent, controversial addition to Sonoma.
Global distress is trickling into our blissful hometown, and Sonomans are in an uproar. This past Fri. Oct. 14 there was an ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest on the plaza, an event that highlights the presence of national politics in our hometown. While it is necessary for adolescents to be informed as to the state of domestic affairs, it is both a blessing and a curse. Often desired for its seclusion, Sonoma’s recent economic strife has somewhat eliminated this idealized reality. There is trouble in paradise, and home-town heroes are caught in the duality of potential enlightenment.
Often, parents, teachers, and officials are conflicted with this predicament. Where is it appropriate to draw the line? How much exposure is too much exposure? Is it more beneficial to be sheltered in naivete or exposed in corruption? Children deserve to exist in the ecstasy of ignorance for the first half of their psychological development, but once they hit the double digits a gradual stream of external, timely, relevant knowledge should be instilled in their psyches to ensure proper maturation.
A conventional, suburban environment often promotes the distinctive development of a small town mentality. There is a suppression of diversity and a pressure to conform to traditional views.
Conversely, in more populous environments, adolescents are presented with cultural, religious, and racial diversity. In addition, they reside in more informed, progressive atmospheres directly associated with current events. Maturing individuals bear witness to both the selective prosperity and widespread suffering induced by the current state of economic affairs.
Teenagers adopt a more expansive view of independence in an urban environment; they are expected to explore, question, and observe the intricacies of their fast-paced, hectic surroundings. Their ignorance is rapidly demolished in light of necessary knowledge.
In tight-knit communities, ignorance is gently abolished—individuals are allowed to live in a state of fantasized paradise until it is deemed absolutely necessary to shatter the illusion.
Whether to reside in a comfortable, tender community or a harsh, opportunistic, reality-bearing city has been disputed for centuries. Based predominately upon personal preference, this fundamental decision serves as the root of collective development.
Bombarded by modern technology, the parents of today are faced with an increasingly precarious balancing act between detrimental overexposure and the necessary preservation of blissful ignorance.
The mature, tainted side of life cannot be avoided. After all, the children of today are the adults of tomorrow. They must be informed as to the multi-faceted nature of their civil expectations before they come face to face with a culture shock of controversy.
Sonomans beware, for our alcove of existence may not remain a romanticized nook secluded from global collapse for much longer– this home sweet home is growing up.