Maya Kids vs. American Kids

by Jonathon Look   (May 2012)

Statistically American children have it easier than most other kids on the planet. Child labor laws protect them from work and they have one of the shortest school years on the planet. Unfortunately 30 years of declining personal wages and rampant materialism have resulted in overworked and overstressed parents who guiltily keep their children safe by providing them with indoor entertainment instead of supervision and family time. Video games, computers and the multiplex cinemas have become de facto babysitters. Fear created by mass media keeps the kids sequestered in their air-conditioned environments and has robbed them of the freedom to go outside, get some exercise and explore their own neighborhoods. Government-subsidized high-fructose corn syrup and pre-packaged foods produced on factory farms keep them full, fat and lethargic.

There isn't a lot of childhood obesity among the indigenous of Mťxico because there aren't a lot of extra calories to be had. International purveyors of fast food and sugar highs are trying to exploit this market to the extent they can but in truth there isn't really much money to be raided. These kids are poor, very poor. They are also raised to feel obligations to their families and are expected to pitch in. By necessity they know their surroundings. They are outside. They get exercise. I don't see many of them complaining, whining or pitching fits. I don't imagine there is a lot of medication necessary or available to control their moods. In fact it is pretty rare to see these kids in a bad mood. Unfortunately in many cases their formal education suffers but they are street wise and knowledgeable about how at least their neighborhood works.

I am not an advocate of exploiting eight years olds by putting them to work in the mines [again] but it seems to me there may be some room for change. I am also not an advocate for living indigenous, poor lifestyles but we need to start doing smarter things with our money and especially our time. If these kids can help the family and still be happy maybe there are some lessons to be learned. They don't get many material things from their parents but most of them get that which is lacking in our materialistic society: time with family and their community.

Mayan kids taking a break