© Laurence B. Winn
Jan 1, 1999 (Updated May 28, 2016)
I wrote this originally without understanding how dangerous it is. Almost any effort to address only symptoms can stall the progress of corrective action. It can encourage denial and self-delusion. Those things are dangerous in themselves, but a great many people confuse them with optimism, which is worse. They uncritically think, we’re on the right track, our leaders know what they are doing, God will deliver us, I don’t really need to deice those wings before takeoff, etc. One more item to beware: Some parts of the strategy I am about to outline will cause you to walk unaware into physical danger if you are working with a domestic partner you think you can trust, but can’t. Nevertheless, I still choose to offer a course of action for people who believe that saving themselves is within the scope of their talents and responsibility, but spacefaring is not.
Let others spell out how to lose weight, eat healthy and develop muscle tone. I will suggest what parents, children, churches, private enterprise and government can contribute to their own survival. Because that, ultimately, is what is at stake.
I can tell you that the days ahead will shine brighter if you have choices. The way to get choices without taking them from others is to contribute to the building of a frontier in space.
First, buy time. Realize that you have been placed in a box that kills by striking at the reproductive unit we know as the family. It does this by devaluing labor and life. Burdened with the realities of environmental damage, terrorism, epidemic disease and the rest of the evening news, children are growing up fast and mean, if they grow up at all. The suicide rate among children and young adults tripled between 1960 and 1990, and it is still increasing. That is often attributed to stress created by competition for grades, for adult attention, for peer recognition, and worry about what, if anything, the future holds. There is a body of research indicating that such sustained and repeated stress not only leads to depression, but can alter the brain chemistry of genetically vulnerable people in a way that predisposes them to violence. Such children kill their own children.
Previous episodes of this condition, Britain's being one of the most recent, ended only with emigration. It was an exodus, a choice available only because of the opening of a frontier across the Atlantic. People chose to leave the box that was Europe. Now, the box is global. That is new. It means there is no place on this planet which satisfies the definition of a frontier: resources without proprietors. What comes next cannot be pleasant.
Symptomatic treatment of enclosure is not enough. But, keeping in mind that enclosure will kill us anyway if this is all we do, I offer the following suggestions to buy time.
Parents need to play the leading role, and it's going to be tough. For fathers, it means getting married and staying that way. For mothers, it means dropping out of the work force. If the kids are in public school, pull them out and teach them at home. No care providers. No second jobs. Take the reduced standard of living. (Of course, If you have an untrustworthy mate and don’t know it, this is suicide.)
Private enterprise can mitigate some of the nastiness of the foregoing draconian options by offering solutions like flex time, job sharing, and telecommuting.
Churches can do what churches have always done: pick up the pieces and take up the slack. Not every child will have two parents. Not every family will be able to make it financially. Some marriages will require a lot of support to stay whole. Churches can provide community, comfort and guidance.
Kids can sometimes gift themselves with something like Valley of the Moon in Tucson, Arizona. If they can’t find one, maybe they can help found one. Think of it as a church devoted to kindness and imagination. It’s too much fun to explain here. Look it up online.
I'm tempted to say that government's role should be to butt out. Government has done a lot of damage. It has all but destroyed the family by giving it permission to break up and offering financial support to the pieces. It errs disastrously in trying to pick economic winners and losers. Public education has undermined parental authority by excluding parents from the classroom, ignoring their values, and acting as a screen behind which adolescents can do as they please. It has promulgated the destructive fiction of “sustainable development” without a frontier, which amounts to nothing more than endless and purposeless sacrifice. It is anything but sustainable. It is a narrow defile with a dead end. Those who herd others down it have a nefarious agenda, and I hereby warn you against it, and them.
But I think government can be part of the solution. It can encourage the use of communications instead of transportation, enabling people to work from home. It can encourage home education by offering curricular support and use of facilities to home educators. And it must, without fail and with the appropriate use of the free enterprise system, create a spacefaring civilization. That effort alone will make a difference in juvenile behavior and outlook because it signals that there is going to be a future, and that children can become, not cogs in a "sustainable development" machine, but men and women of destiny.