Community Voices
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(photo: Daria Obymaha /

“You, who are on the road, must have a code that you can live by.” – Graham Nash, 1968

As the executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, I am terrified regarding the unacceptable behavior we are modeling for our youth, as our national and local behavior is the wrong message to send the young people growing up today.  

Whether it is politics, race, or religion that drives this unacceptable behavior, it does not matter. “Teach Your Children” was written by Graham Nash and made famous by the group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, which my generation listened to continually during our teen years. It is a haunting song, especially today, as we adults too often exhibit morally reprehensible and unethical behavior in full view of our children.  

“And you of tender years can’t know the fears that your elders grew by. And so please help them with your youth. They seek the truth before they can die.”

One of the central tenets we adults emphasize throughout our child-rearing years is that actions have consequences and that we will be held responsible for what we do and say, while in reality, we continually “excuse away” bad adult behavior. Today’s most obvious example of this unacceptable adult behavior is our former president and his far too many civil and criminal indictments. 

Of course, this isn’t a political party monopoly. Locally, an L.A. City Councilman was recently charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, perjury, and conflict of interest. Add to this a Supreme Court justice — a representative of the highest law of our land — accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts over many years from a politically engaged donor without disclosing it. 

What are we teaching our children when we excuse these and far too many other examples of unlawful and unethical behavior? Why do we bemoan a youth stealing a sweatshirt, bullying or abusing peers, or continually lying when caught engaging in bad behavior when they see the same and much worse adult behavior condoned and excused daily when exhibited by our national leaders and even ourselves? 

“And teach your parents well. Their children’s hell will slowly go by. And feed them on your dreams…”

Have we come to a place where we must turn to our youth to “teach us” adults after we subject them to so much bad behavior and mixed messages? Why do we teach “love thy neighbor” in our churches and homes and then are unaccepting of people of different races, religions, and those from our LGBTQ+ community? This Supreme Court, after overturning Roe v. Wade, will soon consider whether to overturn and outlaw same-sex marriages — really? What’s next? Roll back our civil rights laws and take away the vote from women? 

Why do we advocate for “pro-life” while not willing to make AK-47s illegal, when at the same time, our children must practice “active shooter drills” and later are subjected to watching footage of another mass killing of their peers? Why do we ban books that acknowledge our diversity, our imperfect history, or ideas not fully aligned with some of our individual positions while championing the First Amendment? Have we become an adult world where we should tell our children, “Don’t do as I do and don’t do as I say”?

“Don’t you ever ask them why. If they told you, you would cry. So just look at them and sigh…”

Sadly, we hide behind our political parties, religion, or race-preservation mentalities to rationalize our unacceptable “adult” behavior. I can only hope our children can see through our weaknesses, lies, and rationalizations. 

On so many levels today, we are not the examples our children need and deserve. We must demand the best of our adult selves to give all our children a chance at a better future. 

If not “well,” can’t we at least teach our children “better”? spt

photo of san pedro today author Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing

Mike Lansing is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor.