Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On the Iniquity of Our Young

While I can see that it might smack of shameless self-promotion to post comments on my blog that I have left on other people's, I do think I want to do this sometimes. After all, most of what I write is elsewhere. Sometimes I find I express myself better when I engage with a particular 'lead', as it were, than when I write into the 'heart of light, the silence' in that kind of a way one does when one isn't focused in ones 'writing sights' on a particular addressee.

Rachel North, who survived the 7/7 bomb attacks on the London Underground, has written a book about her experiences, and also now contributes articles to leading UK Newspapers. While I could in no way agree with everything she wrote in connection to the recent knife crime incidents in the UK, I agreed that adults, not children, are ultimately responsible for our children being the monstrous, highly disappointing brutes they so often are (my words, not hers).

"It's certainly true that children learn how to live from the adults they are surrounded by. Often we teach them indirectly by our example to do the opposite of what we explicitly teach them to do in our pronouncements. That we then condemn them for not equalling the explicit standards that adult themselvs flout, is as underving of respect as is the lack of respect they show for these standards.

Believe it or not, but young people actually want to learn from adults whom they can admire and who can teach them boundaries and grant them a vision of what life is, and what it is for, namely creativity, understanding, peace and love.

The 'right' is correct in attributing the cause of youth anarchy to our general nihilistic cultural-spiritual implosion. That the right is unjustified in its cruel and hypocritical stance towards kids who are not being guided in life does not, I believe, negate this essential fact.

Wisdom from the 'right', compassion from the 'left', might come close to my approach, I suppose.

But it is time for us to move beyond inhibiting polarities of 'left' and 'right'- French revolutionary terms, I believe, highly out of date, I would have thought?

Or is politics, indeed, only about parties wanting to achieve and mantian power as our cynics maintain?


Rachel said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Jonathan. Hope you are well

Selena Dreamy said...

"It's certainly true that children learn how to live from the adults they are surrounded by. Often we teach them indirectly by our example"

That, on the surface, is indisputable. I am, however, also convinced that you have reduced the problem to the simplest conceivable formula. It is true, that well over 1m UK children are living with parents who are alcohol abusers, with a further 350,000 being brought up by habitual drug users. And the reasons for this are obvious, and obviously perpetuated. What concerns me, however, is that no one bothers to take the long view. Because this is a situation which is bound to become ever more menacing. There can be no question about it.
In the sixties the Permissive Society was being proclaimed. The following decades saw the ongoing triump of social reason, personal freedom and moral liberties. Today we arrive at the far end of an inexorably descending arc, with individual freedom practically unlimited, and even children having "rights", rather than the privilege of a clip round the ear (which takes nothing away from parental love). They are aware that their own freedom is a "legitimate" entitlement and that they are "free" to do more or less anything they want.
Such freedom, you must realise, becomes ever more threatening because the taboos that sustained human communities, however primitive, are increasingly being suspended. So if you'd asked me who is ultimately responsible: the individual (parents) or the culture, I would have to say the latter.


Anonymous said...

lol, how can you blame culture for shaping personality, what a load of monumentally ill-informed bullshit

Jonathan said...

'I am, however, also convinced that you have reduced the problem to the simplest conceivable formula.'

Well, yes, I suppose so, but I wasn't excluding the reality of a greater complexity by referring to an overall shape. When I call a forest merely a forest it is still a forest even though I haven't detailed every tree that constitutes this forest, if that makes sense?

"They are aware that their own freedom is a "legitimate" entitlement and that they are "free" to do more or less anything they want."

I know. This is dreadful. Appaling folly. And obviously it is the adults fault for teaching this. It is a fascinating question why we have come round to give the young, irresponsible and unguided champions of chaos the 'right' to feel that they can do what they like.

A subject in itself but its related, surely, to what I mean by the cultural-spiritual implosion I mentioned. Ideologically, because of our cultural self-repudiation and the banalising triump of dumbed down value relativism, we find it diffcult to justify or articulate the sense of authority we need to defend our culture from its attackers. So all we have is vapid fear and threats, and pettiness to offer on the one hand; and on the other, a lack of resolve to stand up for the rights and requirements of peace and order against a social disintegration that is supported and promoted by the very value relativism that undermines and weakens that traditional authority and culture which is social disintegration's only cure and possible remedy.

And I'm not talking about some kind of fascist unEnglish, authoritarianism, by the way.

The solution is is to induce and augment a spiritual rennaiscance; then to awaken Parents to the responsibilities involved in being parents, such that they will teach virtue (and teachers have a moral responsibility too). Then the task of keeping kids in line will be much easier. Children need ennobling and edifying - not that they be made the scapegoats for our own savage inner lives.

But nothing I say denies now, today, that teenage Children are responsible for their actions, despite their abominable parents. The only excuse for bad behaviour is that you stop doing it.

And sometimes, of course, we should remember, children can be more virtuous and morally driven than their parents; and so prove that anyone, even children, can cut against the storm of influence.

The dissolution of taboos goes hand in hand with, and expresses, the disenchantment of modern life. You say everything there is to say about sex, for example, and all you realise, ultimately, is that there is nothing to say about sex any more -except variations on a single theme of behavioural permutations. Why? Because you have trampled sex into the ground with your grubby and reductive, conceptual feet, banishing the transcendence that is otherwise everpresent in silence and privacy.

And that this is in the name of 'human liberation' is irony indeed.

People forget to what extent privacy is a guarantor of freedom. Give yourself too much to externality and you will be devoured by it.

Try telling that to the Hawkers of 'Reality Tv' shows...

Jonathan said...

Hello anonymous. Laughter is good.

I'm not sure if you refer to my words in the post or Selena's.

Anyway, I think, with respect, that it's true to say that neither of us 'blamed culture for shaping personality' in any unnuanced and simplistic way.

Obviously i cant speak for Selena.

Could you be a little more precise and clear about what your point of disagreement is please?

I for one never denied the central role of personal responsibility in moulding character. But people don't craft their personalities out of nothing, ex nihilo, do they; nor are they islands. So how is an enveloping culture not relevant to the formation of a psyches choices made with respect to which routes to go down.

Abuse and etc is ok up to a point anon. And I'm glad you are amused!:) if it helps you give comfort and power to your beliefs, from your perspective, I can understand your motivation. But abusive words lack content (unless you think the beliefs you attribute to me/Selena are the excreted produce of a male cow?) so there's not much I can really do in response to them by way of a reply (he said, pompously, yet with clarity I hope).

Anyway, thanks for posting.

Jonathan said...

Yeah Rachel, doing fine out here amidst the camels and the coffee chains. Still, looking forward for some quality time back in Albion I hope, in a couple of weeks, for a couple of weeks.

It's good you chose to be a writer and gave up the day job. A bold move to be encouraged, methinks.

Selena Dreamy said...

"what a load of monumentally ill-informed bullshit."

I seem to have misread the evidence - nice to have an expert at hand.