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Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

– E.B. White 

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Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old son find his way home from downtown NYC using the subway system. When she wrote about it in the New York Sun, many were upset, some wanted her to be charged with child abuse. But there were others who applauded her for trusting her child and felt it was a great parenting gesture. I am with the latter group. There is too much infantalizing going on these days, and not just directed as children. Sometimes it is good to just let go.

Was I worried? Yes, a tinge. But it didn’t strike me as that daring, either. Isn’t New York as safe now as it was in 1963? It’s not like we’re living in downtown Baghdad.

Anyway, for weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call.

Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence.

Long story longer, and analyzed, to boot: Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating — for us and for them.

The problem with this everything-is-dangerous outlook is that over-protectiveness is a danger in and of itself. A child who thinks he can’t do anything on his own eventually can’t.

I agree. And in that vein, I think its worth quoting what one of the commenters said in response to this story:

This reminds me of a story that Virgin-founder and adventurer Richard Branson told. He had bet with his mother as a child that he could find his way home, so she dropped him on the streets. And sure he found home walking for several kilometers.
And from that on he knew, that when he relies on himself, he can achieve anything. And look what he has done since…

(Link via Boing Boing)

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This is rather old news but I got to know if it only today. Elizabeth Whelan writes in National Review –

Earlier this year in New York City, a public-heath regulation went into effect that set a new and very troublesome precedent, one that insinuates government agencies into personal medical matters.
In mid-January, the city began legally requiring laboratories that do medical testing to report to the Health Department the results of blood-sugar tests for city residents with diabetes — along with the names, ages, and contact information on those patients.
City officials are not only analyzing these data to assess patterns and changes in diabetes prevalence in the city, but are planning “interventions.” Simply put, diabetics will soon receive letters and phone calls from city officials offering advice and counsel on how to effectively deal with their medical condition. If you wish to keep your medical data confidential, you cannot.

And this may just be the beginning. As the writer notes, the next stage of intervention “may be a harshly punitive one, with fines and other restrictions on those who fail to heed the health warnings. The message will be: Live a healthy life or the government will punish you.”

This is one of those occasions when my words can simply not convey the outrage I presently feel, so I will not say anything more.

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