Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dr. Spock Is 91 and Still at It

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dr. Spock Is 91 and Still at It

Article excerpt

DR. BENJAMIN Spock is 91 and worried. Not about the usual things, like health - "I don't feel great, but until two years ago I didn't even feel old"; or love - he's happily married to a woman 40 years his junior; or money - his famous child-care book still sells half a million copies each year.

Spock's big problem, he says, is the realization that he'll leave America's children in a worse situation than he found them - a fact the activist says he wants to fight with each remaining breath.

So between the macrobiotic meals that his wife, Mary Morgan, prepares for him; the daily massages she gives him while they recite together from the Book of Psalms; the yoga exercises, meditation, group psychotherapy sessions, swimming and nature walks they enjoy at their summer house on Penobscot Bay in Maine - Spock has written yet another book.

This one, he says, has nothing to do with the daily care and feeding of America's youth. "A Better World for Our Children" (National Press, 1994) is about the educational, ethical and spiritual poverty in which we are raising them, and the awful legacy he thinks we are creating.

Just ask and he'll reel off his list of atrocities: "Instability of marriage and the family; cruel competitiveness in business, sports and education; racial and ethnic divisiveness; materialism running rampant, with no spiritual or ethical values to offset it; increasing violence; a coarsening of our attitudes toward sex; lack of high-quality day care; an educational system that spews out children with no skills, no goals, and no preparation for productive, satisfying lives.

"Tote it up," he says, "and you have a picture of a society speeding downhill."

The good news, Spock says, is that we can reverse it all, if we start now to agree on a new set of . . . uh, "excuse the buzzword, but I have to say it . . . values."

Spock is ultra-cautious here because he's been burned before. In the 1960s, 20 years after his first child-care book was published, conservative clergyman Dr. Norman Vincent Peale vilified Spock from his New York pulpit for the baby doctor's anti-Vietnam War activities, his "permissive" attitude toward raising children, and for an entire generation of unpatriotic and undisciplined young people. …

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