Radial Alertness

Sadness stroke my heart this evening as I saw a lack of vision in the eyes of many youth. My friend and I went to our town’s local farmer’s market (AKA “el remate”, Spanish for flea market). I had not been there for a long time. I had forgotten how much it reflects a large part of our Hispanic population. As we saw the nick-nacks here and there, I could not avoid seeing deeper than that. You see, I am an observer. I love to see people. Even though I am talking my head out or working on a project, I am like my mother says, “un ojo al gato y el otro al garabato,” It means to keep one eye on the cat and the other on one’s doodling (sketch). Radial alertness. So, I notice young girls, 12yrs+, who were walking randomly around the stands. Their make-up and apparel demonstrated but one goal: to get the boys’ attention. They giggled and rambunctiously carried themselves. Many were a size 1, many more wished they were #1 to someone. I asked myself where were the mothers of these girls. Had they any idea what they were wearing? Did they understand the repercussions of their attitude in a society where sexual abuse and child molestation is at hand to many of the youth? Did they know what their “little girl” was up to? SURE THEY DID!? They knew because they bought them their clothes. They knew because they gave them permission to “go over” their friend’s house without checking up on the details. They knew because their daughters lashed out more than once how much they disliked the fact that “there is never enough time for them”. They knew because these mothers were once teens themselves.

The boys on the other hand, were even sadder to look at. Seriously, if we were not in public, I would have gotten on my knees and cried out. These kids were dressed to bear out to the world that they were affiliated to someone or something else other than themselves. Their desperation for belonging shouted through their dress code and their brown pride. The lack of vision radiated in their eyes as they searched for “something exciting” to do. I smelled their fear of failure and abandonment in their steps as they walked in groups of three or more. These are the fatherless generation. They have no paternal guidance, much less guidelines. They fear to be alone. They fear to be left out. They fear to stand up for themselves and attempt to make something of themselves all by themselves. They fear being jumped. They fear not meeting up to their society’s expectations. For meeting the negative expectancies of them is better than not meeting any right? It is attention all the same. Negative or positive, attention is attention; and they can get this by being part of something bigger than themselves. They have not been taught that that the goods things of life requires work.

Meanwhile, I thought, “Something needs to be done.” I thought about my education and how much I longed to finish my degree to get into the field and make a difference. But, that is at least 2 semesters away (if not more). Could I really wait that long? If we are alert in a 360 degree manner, we will find that there are needs that supersede our own. I need to do something….

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