Sunday, February 01, 2009

What does modern society do to children?


Experts warn that young people are suffering from stress and anxiety, parents are too scared to let their children play freely and newspaper headlines paint a picture of Britain in which childhood is fast disappearing.

• Depression and anxiety have increased for boys and girls aged 15 to 16 since the mid-1980s, as have what are called "non-aggressive conduct problems" such as lying, stealing and disobedience

• One in five children and young people have mental health problems at some point, and one in 10 have a clinically recognisable mental health disorder

• Up to one in 12 children deliberately hurt themselves on a regular basis - the highest rate in Europe

• Children have lost the freedom to play outside because of their parents' fears.

The Guardian


And:


BRITAIN’S cult of individualism, greed and selfishness has so blighted children’s lives that families and pupils need basic training in love and moral responsibility, according to a landmark report on the state of childhood.

The report, endorsed by Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, is likely to be used as a weapon by the Conservatives to attack Labour for what David Cameron has called “broken Britain”.

A Good Childhood states emphatically that society has been damaged by rampant individualism, that Britain is one of the countries worst affected and that this ethos needs to be replaced by a greater sense of personal responsibility and the common good.

The Times


Society has lost track of a positive goal.

We support facilitative goals, like diversity and openness, but not having an actual goal.

As a result, chaos surges in. From that, parents get scared. Schools have to educate the stupid instead of the smart. Childhood becomes a boring, fearful time.

And this is in one of the richest nations on earth! Good thinking. Where you went wrong was in pandering to the broadest elements of your electorate.


Since all instinctive behaviors have an evolutionary advantage or they would not have been retained for millions of years, chances are that this one too has helped us survive as a species. And, indeed, accumulating evidence strongly suggests that eating dirt is good for you.

In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma.

These studies, along with epidemiological observations, seem to explain why immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States and other developed countries.

NYT


It's a metaphor: in our quest to rid ourselves of "bad," we have been left with not "good" but an incomplete cycle.

The full cycle requires both good and bad, like life is both birth and death.

We want to convince everyone they're OK so we can manipulate them. This is a byproduct of specialization of labor: you need to get other people to do stuff for you, and the best way is through conspicuous altruism, or "demonstrating" to them that you're good by:


  • Helping those who cannot help themselves (pity)

  • Accepting all blindly (equality)

  • Crusading against those who do not accept the above (solidarity)



So we've removed dirt, hackers, racists, fundamentalists, etc. -- the list will always go on.

But we're not left with health. Instead, we have broken lives in which our defenses attack ourselves because we're incomplete.

That's how societies die.

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