suffer the children

A culture that doesn’t recognize children as part of the collective is a culture prepared for its own demise.

In the United States, we still view children as property. They are like furniture: you can do with them what you like, including removing them from one family and giving them to another, at will. Their feelings don’t matter much and what’s in their best interests is only significant from an adult’s perspective.

There have always been adults in the USA who rallied against this domination and oppression mentality. But, since most of them do so from a distorted understanding of childhood, themselves, they often produce just as many problems and issues to overcome as their counterparts.

This is because viewing children as “other” is always detrimental.

Children are not fully-grown humans, but they are humans. And, their needs are the same needs of fully-grown humans: food, water, shelter, care, fun. These are the needs of every, single human on Earth, and some of the grown humans are constantly devising new ways to deprive other grown humans of those needs. And, when the grown humans are denied, so are the still-growing humans.

That’s how it works. And, most of us know this. It’s astounding how many fully-grown humans say they are working for the betterment of the situations of other humans. There are many, many non-profit organizations set up to offset the harm of for-profit organizations. But, like anything set up to counter a thing, they present the same harms.

Because the problem isn’t in the answer, the problem is in the question.

We are constantly asking: How can we make this better? And, the answers we devise are varied and multiple and, once implemented, bring more harm than good.

We see this over and over and over, but we don’t stop asking that question. The question leads us astray time and time, again, but instead of putting down the question, we dig in deeper.

This is the behavior of fully-grown humans who never experienced an appropriately human childhood. It’s tantrum behavior. It’s immature and irrational behavior. It’s reactionary.

But, if your childhood was spent reacting to the whims of the adults around you instead of forming thoughts about your life and experimenting with and discussing those thoughts with the children and adults around you, all you know and habituate are patterns of reaction. You don’t quite learn the difference between responding and reacting. You see them as the same thing, both valid.

Earlier today, I read that people cannot think in solitude. I would have laughed if the author hadn’t been so disturbingly earnest. The article was about the importance of schools, the necessity of schools.

But, schools have never been a necessity. Schools were derived as tools of indoctrination, and indoctrination promotes reaction not response.

Schools are not necessary, even in so-called advanced civilizations, because they don’t provide a single, human need… in a well-formed society. In a well-formed society, everyone’s needs are met: they have nutritious food and clean water, they have comfortable shelter from the elements, there are humor and games, and affection is the norm. In a well-formed society, this is all a given, not something to be earned, because well-formed societies recognize that human needs are human rights. None of that requires schooling and the younger humans will be educated in the needs and desires of that particular society, the one to which they belong.

The belonging is crucial. When we create schools, have we created spaces in which young people learn how to belong to the human family, how to belong to one another? Or are those spaces dedicated to teaching them how to belong to companies and organizations and put them in direct opposition to the human family and even one another?

Isn’t it time that we fully-grown humans started re-educating ourselves and re-examining our motivations, so that we don’t keep asking problematic questions?

When all your needs are met, “doing better” is a foreign concept. We have normalized the ridiculous, because that’s how we were taught. But, maybe it’s time to center our cultures, societies, and communities (and everything they produce) around the greater good of the younger of us. Imagine how much of what we’ve normalized will become obsolete in that world, a world where the needs of the children are truly prioritized and viewed as the needs of humanity (because they are).

We have been raised to normalize a false sense of progress. The fully-grown humans are not so fully grown… yet.

To fully grow into our human potential, we will need to prioritize a fuller human experience. That, like our lives, begins with youth.

photo courtesy of these children in Ethiopia and Trevor Cole of unsplash

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