June 26, 2014
School is out and the weather is gorgeous, everything is bright green under a sapphire sky—but there’s something missing from the picture.
Where are the children?
There are playgrounds in my neighborhood, but except for babies and toddlers in the custody of moms and nannies, we see no children there. No kids pass by on the sidewalk, neither on bicycles nor on foot. There are no children playing in their yards, or even on their front steps anywhere.
What gives? Have we stumbled into an old Twilight Zone episode? What happened to the children?
You have to know where to look. Kids will play outside—as long as they have uniforms, sponsors, parents cheering on the sidelines, and coaches to tell them what to do and when to do it. I doubt there’s even one of those children who knows how to choose up sides, or make up rules that allow you to play baseball with only four kids to a team. Instead of getting fifty or a hundred at-bats a day, they have to make do with two or three—or even zero, if the coach keeps you on the bench.
You can also find children boarding buses to take them to summer school, day camp, or some kind of special “program” where adults tell them what to do and when to do it. You may even spot a group of kids, all in identical T-shirts, on a scheduled, supervised outing to a supervised recreational facility.
If you’re old enough to remember such things, think back on all the decisions you and your friends had to make on a day of summer vacation. What will we play now? What’ll we play later? Who gets to be captain? Who plays what position? Shall we hop on our bikes and go see if we can catch some frogs, or would you rather flip baseball cards? Decisions, decisions—many of them entailing give-and-take, tradeoffs, compromises, and getting things done without fighting over every difference of opinion.
Even squirrels know that free play is how the young prepare for life. If you don’t have wired-in instincts that tell you what to do, you have to learn.
How do children learn to become free-standing, capable adults when they’re under constant supervision and every decision is made for them by someone else? This is how ants and bees are raised, not human beings—and certainly not future citizens of a democratic republic.
We are told that this is necessary because the world has become a dangerous place and children must be protected from those dangers. By being raised like were prison inmates? Wouldn’t it make more sense, and a better world, to remove some of those dangers? Why don’t we do that? Why do the persons who constitute the dangers enjoy their freedom while the children have to lose theirs?
There’s another dynamic at work. Today’s parents, many of them, were yesterday’s latch-key kids. Remember them? You come home from school and nobody’s there, daddy and mommy are both at work, so you let yourself in and float around alone for a few hours until they come home. Watch TV, and maybe pop something into the microwave for a solitary meal. Maybe people who grew up that way are dead set against their children being left alone for any length of time.
Meanwhile, in the absence of a summer program or a supervised sport, there’s always the Zombie Blood Feast video game, or worse, and cell phones to keep you in constant touch with your age-groups peers, just in case you might be tempted to indulge an independent thought.
I’ll never get used to the absence of free-range children from the summer scene, and I haven’t personally encountered anyone who thinks it’s a really good idea. But we wouldn’t be doing it unless someone, at least, thought so.
We’ve got the Worst Lady telling children what to eat—and a lot of good food being sinfully wasted because the kids refuse to eat it—and teachers’ union members exhorting kids to try all sorts of sexual combinations, colleges saddling them with a lifetime’s worth of student debt, and a Secretary of Education who pushes for year-round school, six or even seven days a week, with breakfast, lunch, and supper in the cafeteria. To them, it seems, freedom is an archaic, obsolete thing that must be engineered out of the system—except, of course, for the freedom to fornicate. That’s the one liberty they’re intent on preserving.
The need for supervision breeds a need for more supervision. People who don’t know how to make their own decisions will need the government and its Experts to make decisions for them.
God gives us freedom under His law, which is to protect us from those who would prey on us. Within the boundaries of God’s laws, we are to be free. Without His laws, we are easy pickings for whoever is strong enough, rich enough, clever enough, or ruthless enough to make his own word stand as law.
Much effort has gone into “liberating” us from God’s law.
But I don’t think that’s made us free.
� 2014 Lee Duigon - All Rights Reserved
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on www.amazon.com
E-Mail: [email protected]