Comments: Gratuitous Domestic Observation

Yeah, there is definitely two sides to the whole thing. I am amazed by the fredom I had as a child to go play, walk a mile to the store or ride my bike places, etc., and the level of trust my parents had for my friends' parents, neighbors, etc. Part of my freedom would be taken away today by parental regulation, but only about half of that additional regulation would be unwise.

We live in a far less civilized world today than we grew up in, and the excessive rules are a result of that, for good or for ill. If I were a parent, I'd put a helmet on my kid not because I'd necessarily worry about Johnny splitting his head open -- I'd do so for a far simpler reason, which is fear of the state. And I'd probably either home-school Johnny or send him to the strictest Catholic school I could find not because I'm an overprotective zealot, but because I fear what the state is teaching him.

I'd want more influence over my child's life not because I'm a control freak, but because I'd want him to a) learn proper conduct, and b) receive proper treatment. I'm not convinced of the capacity of the state or of the broader society to do that anymore. Our parents' generation could trust society; we cannot.

I also understand that my responsibility -- both to society and to little Johnny -- is to make him into as least as responsible a person as I am; hopefully better, if I could manage it. I'd hope to raise him so that he's not an Eric or Lyle Menendez.

No-fault divorce, the removal of the stigma of out of wedlock marriages, the notion that Heather may indeed have two Mommies, and that mommy may have a full time career that means little Johnny is warehoused for half the day and raised by strangers -- these are the downsides to having a great deal more personal freedom than our parents did. We often hear of the positives of our brave new world. We seldom hear of the negatives.

I'd prefer a society where I am shunned if I cannot live up to the code if it means that society has my back; that's a tradeoff I'm willing to accept, and that means I view the current age as a more barbarous one than the one our parents live in. Others view the price of a more regimented society (such as that of the 1950s)as being too high.

To me, we're heading to an age where people will have to draw some lines voluntarily in order to create societies that have some coherence. I think we'll eventually have isolated centers of civilization amidst a sea of barbarians. Once we lose the notion of a common normative good, we're left with Benedictine monasteries and pillaging barbarians. Me, I'll choose the monastery, metaphorically speaking.

Posted by The Abbot at May 29, 2008 10:20 AM