Louie C. K. (1967- )
A while back I saw a you-tube clip of Louie C. K. on Conan O’Brian’s late night show. Louie C. K. is not my favorite comedian. Like so many entertainers today, his routines are filled with profanity, and his outlook on life is cynical and ungodly. But he oftentimes does speak the truth, and he is not afraid to say what people don’t want to hear.
Conan brought up the issue of kids and cell phones, and how so many parents have a difficult time limiting their children’s cell phone use. I like how Louie responded so I am going to quote him here– but not exactly. I am going to rephrase some of it, along with adding a few of my own thoughts to make it say what I want to say. If you want to hear precisely what Louie C. K. said you may find it here: (http://teamcoco.com/embed/v/70303)
Regarding the difficulty of limiting his kids cell phone use, Louie said he doesn’t have a problem with that. He said:
I just don’t them have a cell phone at all. It’s easy. You just say, ‘No, you can’t have it; it’s bad for you.’ They say, ‘But I want it,’ and I simply reply, ‘I don’t care what you want.’
I know that doesn’t make them happy, but I am not there to make them happy. I am raising children to make the grownups they’re going to be, so I have to give them the tools to help them get through a terrible life.
It is not my job to make my kids happy. It is my job to prepare them for life. So they are disappointed because they can’t have a cell phone? That’s too bad. Life is filled with disappointments, and then you die. That’s not a very happy thought, but that’s how it is. Kids have to learn how to deal with it. Why should I give them impression somebody is supposed to make them happy all the time? That does not prepare them for real life.
So, no cell phones. That’s the way I look at it.
Some parents feel bad when the kids say, ‘Well all the other kids have one.’ So what? Let your kids be the better example to the others. Just because other stupid kids have phones doesn’t mean my kid has to be stupid too, otherwise she will feel weird.
Besides, I think those things are toxic, especially for kids. They just look at the phone all day. They don’t look at people, and so they don’t learn empathy.
Kids have always been mean, because they are trying it out. They look at an overweight kid and say, “Hey, you are fat.” But then they see that kid’s face and how their words hurt them, and they say, “Ohhh, that doesn’t feel good,” and they don’t want to do that again. But if they just write and text someone the words “You are fat,” and don’t see the reaction, then it is fun, and they want to do it more…
You know, underneath everything in your life there is that ‘thing,’ that emptiness… that ‘forever empty’ feeling. Do you know what I mean? (Conan immediately recognizes the feeling and readily agrees, “Yes, yes, I know what you are talking about.”) It is that knowledge that it is all for nothing and you are all alone. That feeling is always down there. And sometimes for me when things clear away and this feeling comes, and it can be overwhelming. You realize life is so tremendously sad. Perhaps you are all alone in your car when it hits you, and what do you do? Well, you reach for your phone and start texting someone, because you don’t want to face the sadness all alone. So you will risk your life and the life of others on the road so that you can be looking at your stupid phone, instead of facing the sadness and the loneliness.
The other day I was driving and this an old song came on, and I got a flashback to something years ago, and I got really sad. So to avoid the feeling, my first reaction was to pick up my phone and text a silly message to about fifty people, so that some of them could answer me, and then I could answer them, and I could be doing something other than being so sad.
So I started reaching for the phone… and then I didn’t. I thought to myself, ‘Just be sad.’ I decided to just let the sadness come over me, and it did. I even started to cry, and I had to pull over. I let it all happen and I just cried uncontrollable. And then I quit– and strangely, a better feeling came over me, and then I felt good. And I realized none of that would have happened if I had started texting.
But we don’t ever want to let the sadness come. There are so many ways to distract ourselves and so we do, and we avoid the sadness, and we don’t really live. Sadness is a part of life—that is life. Life is really sad, and then you die.
So that’s why I don’t want to get cell phones for my kids.
Louie C. K. is part right—life IS sad and then you die. Life is also wonderful… but even the best times come to an end, and then you die; so that is still sad.
This is not the whole truth, but it is where we must start. If we start by insisting on not ever being disappointed, we will face even greater disappointment. If we try to do all we can to protect our kids from disappointment, trying to make sure they are always happy, we are not preparing them for life. Kids need to know life is sad, uninterrupted happiness is not part of the deal, and they will die.
But then we must also teach our children the most important truth in all of life: even though life in this world is sad, and even though we will die, there is a God who created us, and wants us to know Him, and wants us to be with him forever. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I am overcome the world;” and, he said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
If we teach our children to have faith in that, they will be prepared for life, now and forever.
Job 5:7 — Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
I Peter 4:12 — Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
John 16:33 — (Jesus said), “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Good Jesus, strength of the weary, rest of the restless, come to me who am weary that I may rest in you. Amen.
E. B. Pusey, English churchman (1800-1882)