My hope is that anyone reading this will keep an open mind; not an easy task when so many try to control what we see, hear, and read.

We know that child abuse, unless you're totally uninformed and clueless, has been around since the beginning of man, or is that mankind? Maybe better to say homo sapiens. I guess that term doesn't favor man over woman and includes everyone, including LGBT, oh, and don't forget the Q, though I don't remember what Q represents. I could guess Q is for questionable and I question what "they" will come up with next.

I use to think the letter B covered it all. Be yourself, Be accepting of others' rights, and just try to Be a good person. Beyond the letter B, there was the acronym PDA (public displays of affection), included in the Basic values we learned.

Appropriate public hugs and moderate kisses were acceptable, but simply by observation and accepted norms of decorum, we knew the limits. Nothing wrong with love, affection, all those emotions, feelings, and urges we're prone to experience but time and place guided our discretions. Intimacies were best kept between you and your mate and behind closed doors. After all, "no one knows what goes on behind closed doors" and there's some good reasons for that. It's between consenting individuals and it’s private.

Live and let live seemed to work pretty well for a long time. Simple, less letters, less confusing; just Be and let Be and it wasn't constantly in our faces, but oh how times have changed. If you’re truly convinced of what you are and ready to accept a label, maybe that should be on your Photo ID, lest we forget and others need to know.

There was plenty I didn't understand as a young man; in fact it was rather confusing at times but over time I observed, listened, learned and became a bit more worldly.

I followed the advice of my parents: if you don't have something nice to say keep your mouth shut, mind your own business, if you don't like someone, keep away from them. It seemed logical and worked reasonably well.

As we aged, whatever your discoveries or predilections, we didn't find it necessary to march, demonstrate, wave flags, openly discuss certain proclivities, nor try to convince or recruit someone to our personal beliefs and desires. Please believe me, it's not that I'm criticizing, condemning, or chastising those different than me; God knows I'm different, we're all different and that's what makes it interesting.

You don't have to agree, accept, approve, or promote behaviors and lifestyles contrary to your personal or religious beliefs but we should all be tolerant and respectful of differences, allowing everyone to exercise their right to exist as long as those rights don't trespass against the rights of others. And if you should disagree with someone’s beliefs or lifestyle, that doesn’t mean they should be censored, boycotted, or cancelled. That in itself is discriminatory, hateful, and certainly divisive.

So, what's this got to do with child abuse?

In short, turning children into adults before their time; robbing them of their innocence. Exposing them to concepts, expecting them to comprehend, and giving them choices long before they're mentally, emotionally, and physically developed. Allowing clothing and adornments more befitting adults, access to technology, information and content that can confuse and overload the developing mind; is this constructive? Then they're bombarded with LGBTQ from so many venues.

Surely, high schoolers today are more informed and savvy than people of my generation and one can understandably argue, and I agree, that they should be aware of LGBTQ. But is it necessary to introduce and indoctrinate children at ages all the way down to Kindergarten?

Asking kids in elementary if they feel like the opposite sex. Would they rather be the opposite sex? Having them question an identity they likely don’t yet fully understand. Literally discussing and promoting sexual identity changes when they're still shedding their baby teeth?

Promoting unisex restrooms. Boys playing on girls teams. This, many believe, is a form of child abuse. I'm not exaggerating this. It's in the news, though the news is often slanted and one sided, pushing an agenda. It's even in many schools. Schools and the media should inform and educate, not indoctrinate.

Many progressives feel it's enlightening and necessary for the acceptable awareness in children. Sadly, many parents aren't aware of curriculums and movements that affect the youth and are reluctant to voice their disapproval. Even educators and politicians are often afraid to convey their opposition for fear of being shunned, cancelled, dismissed, and ostracized.

Growing up can be confusing and challenging in the best of circumstances. Why exacerbate and complicate the developing years? What's the rush? I love diversity, I believe in tolerance, but some excesses are not tolerable.

They're your children. Be aware, be involved. Don't let others' agendas and narratives affect your child's development and your family's values. Somehow, this awareness, instead of bringing people together, is often driving people apart, causing anger and retribution if one doesn’t agree with the other.

Somehow, without these movements, proclamations, campaigns and consent of the major media and “progressives”, I aged, I matured, I muddled through without hating others because of their race, their religion, their sexual preferences, and somehow most of us got along.

Now, whether it’s sexual preference, race, and sometimes religion, we’re told and asked to admit our hatreds and insensitivities, and many, who were accepting, understanding and tolerant are becoming resentful.

Could it be there’s something else going on here? Think. Divide and conquer.

Conquer the emotions, conquer the vote, further agendas, and create preference over equality through control. There’s always going to be a few embers but why stoke the fire?

Why ignore and obfuscate the real issues: family structure, livable wages, affordable healthcare, education, healthy lifestyles, love of country, and unity. Those are things we should all have in common, issues to unite us but many prefer to divide us. Instead of accentuating the positives, they exploit the negatives.

Remember, a nation divided cannot stand nor can its families.

In conclusion, though not perfect, I enjoyed the innocence of my youth. My childhood, my innocence, was not stolen or corrupted. I was allowed to mature at my pace, decide my own path and preferences. Though relatively poor, and relatively is the operative word, being subjective, I had family and community structure.

Through maturity, experience, and education, I recognized wrongs, I recognized false beliefs, and adjusted accordingly but chose not to hate, chastise, or cancel others.

It was up to me. I decided what to Be or not to Be. And that is the question.

What do you want your family and country to be? Don’t be lectured and controlled; get involved, take control, and decide what’s best for your family and country but do it respectfully. Whatever your beliefs, may God bless all our families and America.

Stephen Anton

Exeter Township

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