The essay “Lies We Tell Kids” left me thinking for a long time – too long in fact. There are places I agree with Graham and things I don’t agree. There are parts in “Protection”, “Death”, “Identity”, “Peace”, “Detox” that I will comment on later.
The essay has subtitles, which let people see the main points of the essay more clearly. It may be that the essay has too many points for Graham to fit one assertion into one paragraph, so subtitles are introduced into the structure of the essay.
In one of the paragraphs under the subtitle “Protection”, Graham wrote, “But as I grew older, suburbia started to feel suffocatingly fake.” I don’t quite agree with him. First of all, it is only from one point of view, from himself, so it doesn’t give the full picture. He feels that suburbias are “suffocatingly fake”, but other people may not feel that way. I admit I only lived in a suburb area till I was 10 years old, but I believe if I continued living there, I would not feel that it was “suffocatingly fake”. I had a few friends in the neighbourhood that are about 15 to 18 years old, but they seem perfectly happy living in the suburb. He said that “My whole world was no bigger than a few friends’ houses I bicycled to and some woods I ran around in.” when he was 10 years old. Maybe because of the fact that we lived too far away from the city, we had to travel at least half an hour or an hour to buy something from a supermarket, travel at least thirty minutes to get to school, my mother frequently did shopping in Hong Qiao and other places with me, I had a wider picture of the world than he did. My world was not just those streets or the houses I bicycled to. I don’t think I am the only one that feels this way. The children of families who have moved from one country to another will know that the world is not so small.
Still, under the same subtitle, Graham said, “Combine this with the confidence parents try to instill in their kids, and every year you get a new crop of 18 year olds who think they know how to run the world.” I somewhat agree to his point, but not completely. Firstly this does not apply to every person in every different culture. Yes, there are people that turn 18 each year that think they can rule the world, but not all. Take China as an example. Parents don’t really give their kids too much confidence so they grow up as modest people.
Death is another theme Graham wrote about. He said,
“They want to feel safe, and death is the ultimate threat… a lot of changing the subject when death came up. I can’t remember that, of course, but I can infer it from the fact that I didn’t really grasp I was going to die till I was about 19… Kids often want to be lied to. They want to believe they’re living in a comfortable, safe world as much as their parents want them to believe it.”
How is death the ultimate threat? When I grew up, I knew that things will live and die, and although it is shocking, but I knew my parents would die before I did. The fact that Graham listed small things like how “the cat had died”. Maybe it is because I read science books when I was young, I found out about death at quite a small age. I never really had a shock about it, because I know that everything goes back into Nature and recycled. Another thing Graham said – children want to be lied to… In what way? How? He did not prove that his point is correct with examples, nor did he explain his point with reasons, so who says he is correct?
Under the subtitle of “Peace”, I finally reach something that I somewhat agree with. He said, “Kids, almost by definition, lack self-control. They react violently to things—and so they get lied to a lot.” If you think of the typical child, you think of a kid that cries over small things such as a loss of a possession or minor cuts on the skin. Thats why when people overreact on things, they are classified as “childish”. There is also a point that he mentioned, “This sort of lie is one of the main reasons bad things persist: we’re all trained to ignore them.” True, we were ‘trained’ to ignore things like global warming, starvation, animal abuse et cetera. But we can try and undo these lies, and this brings us nicely onto the next subtitle, “Detox”.
In the section about “Detox”, or detoxification, Graham wrote,
“There’s never a point where the adults sit you down and explain all the lies they told you. They’ve forgotten most of them. So if you’re going to clear these lies out of your head, you’re going to have to do it yourself.”
Although I am far from the point of being in adulthood, I agree with this point. It seemed reasonable, because it is very hard to spot a mistake unless somebody tells you, or you look from a different point of view.
In conclusion, Graham made quite a few points that I agreed with, although there were others that I didn’t quite agree. The fact that he uses his own experiences as examples and explanations of his assertions puzzled me to conclude if his essay was a persuasive one or analytical. Overall, I enjoyed reading this text, although it was quite long.