Thursday, January 20, 2011

Parenthood - Part 4: The Problem with South Florida

The Problem with South Florida

We came to visit my wife's Grandfather every year in South Florida. It was always a dream to move to the warm weather of South Florida. After finishing college, we made that dream a reality and moved down from Michigan to enjoy the weather and to keep Grandpa company. When Grandpa passed away, my wife's parents actually moved into his place, and a few years later, her brother also moved down to the area.

Our first place, in Coral Springs, was across the street from a high school. Hearing the marching band practicing from our balcony, I remarked to my wife that we should go see a high school football game for fun. To this day, ten years later, I'll never forget what an eye opening experience that was to the horrors of South Florida culture - or rather a lack of culture.

Two area high schools can have as many as 3000 students, while being located only a few miles from each other. I was shocked the first time I saw the stands at a football game between two of these over-packed schools. The stands were empty. The culture down here doesn't care. 3000 students; 6000 parents; 12,000 grandparents - empty bleachers.

My family moved to a small town in Southeastern Michigan during my junior year of high school. I attended a football game for our school and I was overwhelmed by the community attendance at the football game. The high school had about 400 students and the town had a population of about 4000. It seemed as if the whole town showed up for every football game. My dad didn't believe me. He had to see it to believe it. He learned the hard way that it was standing room only for late-comers.

South Florida, despite being a salad bowl of cultures from all over the world, is actually totally devoid of a culture of its own. Maybe a culture of selfishness; of meanness; of greed; of indifference; of business; of materialism. There is no community here. It isn't just the high school bleachers that are empty.

The professional hockey arena across the street is empty for most games. The professional baseball games are mostly empty. The professional soccer team is expired. Fairs and festivals are laughably irrelevant at capturing the community.

I've heard people throw around statistics about South Florida, but I prefer to simply show the absence of culture through ten years of experience living down here. Nowhere is it more painful and obvious than in the neighborhoods.

When looking for a home, we went out of our way to avoid a gated community. The reasons should be obvious and self-explanatory. Our non-gated neighborhood has been nothing but a disappointment. (I've alluded to this in past posts.) We've gotten to know most of our neighbors within a 5 house radius. This is a major accomplishment in South Floridian terms - most of these neighbors don't know each other.

These neighbors have come to parties/dinners at our house and remarked that, in 25 years, no one else has ever invited them over. At Christmastime, most homes are devoid of decorations/lights. At Halloween, most homes are dark and "closed for business". Its depressing. Everyone pays a lawn crew to take care of yard work. Everyone pays someone to come and wash their car. Many pay someone to come in and clean the house.

Neighborhood kids are rarely seen, and if so, its usually loitering under a basketball hoop that is set up in the street. And the speed limit on our streets is 30 mph.

Should I go on?

1 Comment:

javajuliete said...

I noticed you have not added to your site in over a year. I hope this does not mean trouble. I appreciate your honest look at American, South Florida, and Christian life. I don't always agree with your conclusions,but I definitely relate.

So, please start blogging again. I think its time. If you've moved away or this blog no longer has your interest the way it once did. Could you allow someone else to continue it? Thanks, Javajuliete

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