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Stay connected to neighbors, not Internet

POSTED: March 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

I thought we had elected the less-government crowd to state government. If my memory serves me correctly, they ran for office on the premise that the government needs to focus on the basics, like having good roads and educating our children.

Now, someone has come along with the idea that we need to weigh children and measure their body mass index.

I don’t know how many of you have had your body mass index measured. They take a pair of calipers and pinch a hunk of the skin on your belly. This tells you how fat you are.

Let me tell you, they pinched more than an inch on me.

I don’t really understand what they’re going to do. Are they going to call home and tell you that your child is fat? Don’t you know that already?

I appreciate the intent. Somebody needs to do something about it, but I’m not sure it is our state government.

If you have ever seen the state seal, it includes the state motto: Wisdom, Justice and Moderation.

One of those is the root of the problem: Moderation. If the kids eat a whole bag of Cheetos sitting in front of the TV for five or six hours a day, they are going to get fat.

They are not watching a moderate amount of television or eating a moderate amount of junk food. Even if I said it, that’s pretty basic wisdom.

Speaking of justice, somebody in the federal court system figured out that inmates on death row need to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise for a few minutes every day.

What’s wrong today is that kids are spending way too much time in front of TV and computers instead of going outside and getting some exercise.

Folks are all in a tizzy about letting their kids run loose. We live in fear of sexual predators reaching over the fence and grabbing our kids. If we were really neighbors in the real sense of the word, we wouldn’t have to worry about such a thing.

If we see a strange car or a strange person, we are too afraid of each other to say something.

When I rode my bike on the streets of Social Circle growing up, I had dozens of sets of eyes watching out for me. They weren’t family, they were just good neighbors. I played in the yard all day on Saturdays, either ours or a friend’s. My mother knew where I was and could find me within two phone calls.

We dug in the dirt, made forts and tried all sorts of things we thought would make our bicycles faster and better.

You can’t legislate that kind of stuff.

What’s happened, and I’m guilty of this, is that we are content to stay inside our air-conditioned homes with the windows closed and the TV on. We have set the example for the kids and they’ve taken it a bit further with video games and DVDs.

There are kids who can’t ride to school without a DVD playing in the SUV. And then you wonder why Johnny can’t pay attention.

Why do we need to put a fat measure on every schoolkid? The state would be better off to mail us all a dime store mirror so we could look at ourselves and see how stupid we’ve become.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays, in print only, and Sundays.


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