I was recently introduced to Horatius at the Bridge, a poem written in the 1800s by Thomas Babington. It depicts a battle in ancient Rome. Three men, led by Horatius, volunteer to hold the foes as they tried to cross the only narrow bridge across the Tiber and into the city.
As a horde of thousands gather to cross the bridge, all looks lost. Horatius looks at his commander and says:
“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon straight path a thousand
May well be stopped by three:
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me.”
The poem in its entirety speaks to my romantic side as well as my affinity for the Roman and Greek myths of old. This passage, however, is yelling at me in a different, more relevant way for today.
The World We’ve Built
Parents, the ‘world’ in which we grew was very different than the one we’ve made for our children. Technology, of course, is at the forefront of this change.
A great deal of this change is certainly an improvement. When I feel the desire to rail against the advances of the modern world, I think of writer AJ Jacobs’s admonishment: “Repeat after me: surgery without anesthesia.”
With the host of advantages our ever-modernizing world delivers, there come a few challenges as well. Two things, in particular, jump out at me: the images our kiddos see on a daily basis and the lack of real-life human interaction in our young people’s lives.
The photoshopped and filtered perfect worlds, clothes, parties and bodies of ‘influencers’ is something we never had to contend with. Sure, we got to see the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous once a week and could thumb through People or Sports Illustrated. But these images were a small part of our weekly digestion. Now, new images – and the self-comparisons they inevitably create – are a thumb swipe away all day, every day.
Screen time is certainly having an effect on our young people and it’s not very positive.
The fall of free-play with friends and true connections with interested near-peers and adults is having disastrous effects. There have been several studies confirming the rise of anxiety and depression in our kids. As writer Kim Brooks recently reported, “kids have fewer opportunities to practice social-emotional skills.”
In simpler terms, we’ve taken away the opportunity for our kids to play, create, and interact in the places and ways we did and their grandparents did as children. This deficit is truly harming our kids’ futures.
At the Bridge
Valiant Horatius had only two companions at the narrow bridge into Rome. That proved enough.
The bridge to our future is much wider and requires more people standing shoulder to shoulder. Thankfully, at Weequahic, we have our two hundred staff members who choose to live by our values of gratitude, attitude, courage, and kindness. And, we’ve got a huge cohort of families who feel the same way.
With the help of our families and staff, Weequahic will continue to pick and choose the most beneficial of our ever-growing technologic powers for our community and shun the rest. We’ll set the standard of behavior (and dress) that draws our kids’ community together in reflection of our values rather than apart by comparison. And, we’ll continue to foster growth and creativity through play and laughter, challenge and training, community and connection.
Parents, thank you for standing at the bridge with us. And, thank you for helping us support SCOPE who is making this same stand available to others.
Let’s keep it up… together. Have a great week!