January 2, 2006
2006: A Year of LOVE
Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.
Sex, sex, everywhere, and not a speck of love.
Entering a new year, taking time to reflect back and hope forward, I am struck by a growing and persistent awareness. After forty years of national focus on developing the perfect sex education programs for our children, we are still missing the key element. Each year, we teach through the sex manual, all 800 pages of it, and ignore the footnote on page 772 that contains the essential truth.
Sex education today revolves around “medically accurate facts” updated hourly with new research findings. We teach kids the long list of sexually transmitted diseases, along with their causes and symptoms. We post failure rates of condoms and devise easy-to-understand lessons to help a twelve-year-old comprehend the meaning of a 14% failure rate for condoms in preventing pregnancies.
We pass laws and increase funding to make sure students get the medical facts. We host conferences where the latest in research findings is relayed to educators. And we write and film new hip-hop videos, dressing up the facts in the latest version of “cool” so that teens might stop, listen and heed.
This is all important work. For many kids this information is reinforcement of their personal commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage, and for other kids it is the catalyst for making major life-saving changes in their sexual behavior, even to the point of returning to sexual abstinence.
But we are teaching our children with only half an answer. We are teaching them to preserve their physical health. Kids are making the connection between physical health and the ability to chase their future goals…education, career, and financial security.
As far as it goes, it is a good education. But it is lacking. And it is lacking the most important message. We know this. But we still fail to seriously address the missing ingredient.
Teri, an Education Director for city-wide sex education programs, states it plainly. The more I’m in this business of sex education, the more I’m convinced it’s not about sex. It’s about relationships. Love. Intimacy.
Dr. Diggs, a physician who can spout the statistical probability of catching any one of the most common twenty-five STDs when using a condom, agrees with Teri. Kids are not looking for sex. They are looking for relationships. They are looking for somebody to whom they can be known and who they can know at the same time. They are not looking for sex.
Sex, sex, everywhere, but who can teach our children about love? It’s the one thing we adults, like our children, long for most in our lives, yet it is one subject that cannot be boiled down into a 30-minute power point presentation.
We can teach love. But we must teach it through example. And that is not so easy in a world now rocked with divorce and family breakup and in a culture tempted by a media profiting from all acts of non-love that we can imagine.
A new year presents itself. New opportunities and new choices. At FROM THE HOME FRONT, we are charting a new course for our columns. It is a path dimly lit, but it is a path we must follow. It goes where our children most want to go, and where we would want them to end up, if we knew how to make it happen.
As writer, I know no more than you, the reader. I am beset behind and beset before with my own human weaknesses, my own frailties, and my own temptations.
But this I know, any goal so desired of mankind, must certainly merit the attention. Your insights, your experiences, your questions are all invited in a weekly consideration of love. At FROM THE HOME FRONT, in 2006, we dedicate ourselves to the consideration of what makes life…and sex…worth having. It is a year devoted to love.
September 12, 2005 – Kiss, Kiss, I Love You