Friday, March 7, 2014

Tyranny in the nursery

Shaking off tyrannical government looks less attractive when anarchy is the only alternative, given our deep divisions. David J. Shestokas summarizes the variables that make “consent of the governed” possible. Note two of the three variables depend on the governed (i.e., us).

For a government founded on philosophy to maintain its authority, three things are needed:

  1. An understanding by the people of the philosophy

  2. An acceptance by the people of the philosophy

  3. Conduct by the government consistent with the philosophy

For those keeping score, we’re 0 for 3.

Aside from turning his house into a criminal-repellant fortress, the feats of survival in Home Alone aren’t that impressive. What 9 year-old child set up in a mansion with food and electricity wouldn’t be able to survive a week or two? What if Kevin had been left home alone with his older brother Buzz, posing to both boys the challenge of making peace with his rival? Now, that would be something! But then it wouldn’t be as funny as turning the mansion into his personal funhouse.

Not only are little kids dependent on you to feed them and clothe them, they need you to protect them from each other. They are little tyrants, single-minded in their focus on what they want. You can’t trust them to play nice, to settle their differences on their own. They are incapable of governing themselves. That’s why adults must watch over them.

As long as there’s food available, a child left by himself gets along just fine. Two children, however, will fight over anything. They need a babysitter.

Maturity begins with conformity. Children learn to moderate their wants, to balance themselves with society, to determine truth and justice within a self-effacing, external moral framework shared by their peers.

If a people don’t agree, it becomes necessary for a babysitter, like Ken Kesey’s Big Nurse, to impose rule by force. If they do agree, but they agree on a moral framework that is not virtuous, that is not self-effacing, that regresses to the least common denominator, they become enfeebled. They slide into sin and cultural lethargy, readily observable in an uptick in hedonism and a downtick in birthrates.

No comments:

Post a Comment