Right now, there are two teenage boys missing in the Atlantic Ocean. Their exact fate is unknown and as the time goes on the most terrible of possibilities gains more and more traction: these boys aren't coming home.
I haven't bothered to wade through the horseshit that is certainly being shoveled at the parents right now. Without a doubt, critics from all circles are embracing that most American of pastimes: turning into a puritanical mob hell-bent on leveling moral vengeance.
The clicks-and-eyeballs-ad-revenue news media fuels this behavior. People want drama and controversy, and modern "journalists" are happy to provide it.
Fortunately my fifteen minutes of fame is long over, so let me pick apart the critics of these families a bit.
Leaving firearms, alcohol, and motor vehicle deaths aside, we'll just focus on drowning in general. Every day in the United States, roughly ten children die from drowning in swimming pools. Every two and a half hours, every day, a child drowns. Even more brutal is that plenty of life-altering permanent neurological damage occurs for children who survive but suffered lack of blood profusion to the brain for a sustained amount of time.
If the spittle-flying critics really are concerned with the safety of children then surely the shockingly high death rate from backyard pools would be the top of their list. But they're not, and the media doesn't really report it, and sort of like black people dying in Africa (5,500 children a day is the number, by the way), our whole society puts our collective fingers in our ears and ignores it.
But man-oh-man, when something juicy comes along like two boys lost at sea, or a family crossing an ocean, well now there's some info-tainment for you. I don't know about other countries, but here in the US of A we take a certain pride in publicly lecturing those who we feel step out of line.
- It has nothing to do with safety.
- It has nothing to do with a true assessment of risk.
- It has everything to do with novelty and the treating of our fellow citizens like they are a reality TV show for our entertainment. It's not just an opportunity to criticise, we feel like it's our duty.
Let me raise an even more blunt point: oceans are better than swimming pools for raising children. Do you know anyone who developed lifelong confidence, connection with others and the environment, and a profound understanding of life via a backyard swimming pool? No, and you never will.
But if you know any sailors (I use the term to include all who crew ocean going vessels), you'll know these people are deeply and permanently affected by the sea. It is a powerful teacher, taskmaster, and perspective-bringer.
So not only are backyard pools (and firearms, and alcohol abuse) a much more serious threat (by any math) to the children of America, but you don't even get a lot of positives out of them. I digress, but the ocean doesn't have a lobbying group as where pools, firearms, motor vehicles, and alcohol do.
So to those of you who shelter your children from, but at the same time expose them to, mortal danger, and then hop on your high horse to denounce others, I squarely write in big bold letters that you're a bad parent.
Your children will enter the real world one day, and that world isn't the kumbaya singing fantasy land that you're conditioning them to grow into. It's a real world with life and death, beauty and danger, pain and comfort. No matter how much you want the world to be a safe place, it isn't.
That the critics of this world don't jump all over you when your children are injured in a non media-publicized way simply means your life is in the same cattle chute with everyone else and while it's easy to throw stones at people unlike you, it's terribly uncomfortable to look at your own problems and see them as such.
If the parents of Austin and Perry ever read this, first and foremost I hope they are found safely. As you've indicated in the press, sailors know the ocean and there are countless search and rescue operations that have yielded jaw dropping results.
If your children are gone, I cannot even let my mind go to that place because of the anguish that it entails. But as parents I look at you through a lens that although not popular these days, is what even your critics regard as courageous and noble, when they can arrest their own desires to defend their complacency.