The failure to take responsibility rears its sickly head in all social spheres, from heads of state to working-class stiffs. Case in point: the death of a 12-year-old boy in Brooklyn, NY who got crushed by a roll-up gate while playing chicken. ”Tenants outraged,” blares the Daily News headline.
But the gate didn’t malfunction. The outrage has nothing to do with the gate per se. It’s over the fact that the building management hadn’t put in a playground, leaving the kids, it is claimed, no other option but to play chicken by climbing on an electronic gate. “The kids have no place to play,” complained one resident of the apartment complex.
OK. (Deep breath.) This should hardly need saying, but here goes. First, where were the parents or guardians who should have been looking after the kids and forbidding them from playing where they shouldn’t? A playground or basketball program won’t keep 12-year-old boys from playing dangerous games elsewhere. They’re 12-year-old boys. And parents should know that.
Which brings us to the second point: Kids are always going to do dumb things. Handicapped by unfinished brains, many of them lack the sense to stay away from danger. Even with the most responsible supervision, a small subset of our children are going to be culled from the herd when their foolish behavior intersects with machine technology. Just the other day a kid was almost run over by a subway train because he and his friends decided to play chicken by jumping down onto the tracks. So it goes.
It’s human nature to rush to blame someone else when a sad incident like this occurs. But here’s an idea: Let’s just not.