Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some ironies.

A famous chilldrens' author stirred things up in Australia not long ago. She said that putting children into day-care from a very early age is a form of child abuse. This society will look back on it, she says, and wonder how the people of the time could do such a thing. Mem Fox is her name. She wrote a childrens' story called "Possum Magic". Predictably, some commentators went for her like attack dogs. She questioned one of the critical claims of feminism, namely, that there must be a way of having children without having to care for them all day yourself.
I know it's not for me to tell everyone else their conscience, but what she says seems right to me. The idea of having someone else effectively bring up your child for you is just like what aristocrats and wealthy people used to do in the past. They had nannies for them, and the parents got on with their elite society lives while a hired woman cared for and nurtured their children. So while people today despise the idle rich or unjustly privileged 'nobles' of the past, some of them are doing just the same thing that those people did: hiring others to raise their children.
Doing that can have unexpected consequences. There is a story about Winston Churchill, Britain's famous Prime Minister during World War 2. Young Winston was cared for by a nanny, like most children of his class. Years later, when his mother died, it hardly affected him, and he was appalled at himself for not feeling more grief. Then shortly afterwards his old nanny died, and then he grieved!
You see the point? Winston's attachment was to his nanny, not his natural mother. The reason was, his nanny had given him the moment-by-moment attention and mother-type love that a child needs. Hence, it was her he was bonded to.
This is an age when parents like to talk about giving their children everything. Yet something they don't always give is themselves, because they are too busy having 'careers'. I'm not just talking about mothers here, it goes for fathers too. Bringing home the pay packet is important, but so is being there for your children.
And here's another irony. Just as socialism is losing ground in the world, fewer nations call themselves communist or socialist and run their economies that way, a socialist idea is becoming widespread. A major socialist aim is to diminish the family as a focus of loyalty and attachment. Get people away from their families, and the influence of parents, because their allegiance should be to the state. The Marxists specifically critisize the family as a unit. If people draw support and comfort from their families, and are influenced by them, they are less attached to the state and less obedient to it. When the communist Khmer Rouge took power in Cambodia, one of the things they tried to do in 're-education' camps was sever children from their families. Since the socialist state wants the complete obedience and commitment of all the citizens, it gets very jealous if people put other people before the demands of their political leaders. Whether it's Mao, Stalin, Big Brother or any one else, the socialist-communist state wants to be Number One to all. And a person's attachment to their relations compromises that. A socialist objective is to get children away from their families as much as possible. It's best if they do most of their living outside the family and home. Hence it is a socialist approach to have early day-care, long day-care, preschool from an early age, and getting the school to do as much as possible for and with kids. That way they are away from home and parents, and (the socialist hopes) under the influence of adult instructors and supervisors who can direct their development. So how ironic that some of the most capitalistic anti-communist societies in the world are doing just the same: getting their children involved in things outside the home as early as possible and as much as possible. I can see exactly why some parents home-school their children. That way the kids know exactly where they belong, and who is there for them. That way parents can stop someone else from taking over their children and undermining the parents' values. I can see why the Christian churches run schools. They support the parents' beliefs, and teach children that there is something much bigger and better than 'the state' to put their trust in. (Thankfully!)
It's not for me to tell people their conscience. I know some people put their children in day care because they are struggling to support them, and need to work. But there could be something wildly and badly wrong with what some people in western society do with the very young. It is assumed, according to humanist/socialist theory, that a secular and materialistic approach to childcare is adequate. The future will show what the results are, but by then it could be too late.

Friday, October 24, 2008

By their words..

A columnist in Australia reports on some of the vitriol directed at Sarah Palin. I'm wondering if some of the hate-mongers who attack her know they are alienating people,
arousing sympathy for the ones they attack.
Since I don't live in the United States, it's not my place to say who the nation's elected leaders should be. That is for Americans to decide. What I'm talking about is the spite involved in a bumber sticker saying 'Abort Sarah Palin', or the comment from one Australian feminist that Sarah Palin was 'very, very dangerous. There's something wrong with her....she's post-feminist'. The point here is, the people who say that would no doubt insist that they support freedom of speech and belief; rights and freedoms for all; and then savagely attack those who exercise their freedom to believe something they disagree with. It's as stupid and obvious as a person calling themselves a vegan and then eating a beef-burger.It makes mockery and hypocrisy of the fine words they speak when they want to win friends and influence people. One feminist hard-liner was quoted as saying 'My head almost exploded from the incandescent anger boiling in my skull,' when hearing what Palin had to say.
The same sort of thing goes on in Australia. A certain Professor Wayne Sawyer apparently said that English teachers in Australia were not teaching critical thinking, because John Howard kept getting re-elected Prime Minister. In other words, he claims that anyone who thinks clearly would not vote for Howard's party. That is straight out argumentum ad hominem: attack the person instead of their argument. It is an intellectually dishonest way of contesting with someone. Rather than present arguments that rebutt their arguments, attack them personally. When being taught about flawed ways of contesting an argument, that was one of the classical examples shown to me. You can't beat their argument fairly, so attack them instead. A professor of English of all people should know that. And here's the irony. The people calling Sarah Palin dangerous are themselves dangerous. That they harbour such vicious spite against her for saying what she thinks, reflects on them. That a senior academic can forget all his own training to lash out at those he disagrees with, shows the frailty of human learning, and the unreliability of education as a way of making people 'good', whatever you consider that to be.
I've seen this before, too. The political left throw terms like "fascist" at people whose views are unlike their own. In so doing they exhibit a fascist attitude themselves: they deny freedom of thought and demand obedience to their own ideology, which is the classic tenet of fascism with its demand for complete obedience.
Some time ago now, I realized that one reason I looked to Christianity for answers was that the humans who most loudly claimed to be good were often the ones with the most hatred inside them. And there goes that irony again! A frequent attack directed at Christians is that they pretend to be better than they are. Nothing beats a 'progressive' political activist, with all their self-righteous claims to social conscience, for harbouring malice while claiming to care so much about humanity.
I've forgotten who it was who said: "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him", but that says it all. When human beings try to run something relying entirely on their own wisdom and supposed goodness, the results are like disastrous. Feeling that they must get their own way, people resort to the bitterest rage when opposed. God and Jesus Christ be with us. We're doomed otherwise.
Speaking of words, which is the title of this post, here's an example of the misuse of language. A person is a traitor if they pretend to believe or do something, and then do another to attack those they pretended to side with. Sarah Palin has been called a traitor to women, by feminists (claiming to speak for ALL women, which is an arrogant presumption) because they say she is letting them down. Did she in fact ever claim to believe the things the feminists believe? Or was she always right upfront about what she believes? If so, she is NOT a traitor, she is an honest advocate of her own beliefs, which she has a perfect right to. Misuse of a term is the classic example of intellectual dishonesty - and betrayal of the principle that we should all speak the truth. The attackers are condemned out of their own mouths.
It must be a bitter disappointment to put your hopes in politics and politicians. They will always only be human. The more I hear angry people demanding my support or obedience, the more I know I can not trust or aid them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Through a glass, darkly.

What some people call "girls behaving badly" was the theme of a T.V. documentary recently. The girls are called "ladettes" or "yobettes", because they carry on the way some young men do, and aim to beat the men at their own game. So the night out consists of having a lot to drink and carrying on with wild behaviour. Baring their breasts from a bus window, shouting out lewd comments and chanting 'let's get boozed and let's get laid' is all the go. When two of these girls are interviewed by the show's presenter, one of them tells us that she punched a hole in the house wall in rage when her mother refused to give her money to go out raging for the night. Another one, explaining why she does it, ends up in tears and admits "I'm in trouble. I need help". You can ask why is it that girls get critisised for behaving that way when boys are shown more tolerance. Excuses get made like "They're just sowing their wild oats" or "It's just youth" and more of that kind. The point here is that the girls are out to beat the boys at their own game. And they are suffering for it the way some boyss do.
Some of the girls, it emerges, have been badly treated by boys. So they get their own back. They can do it too. They can treat boys like disposable sex objects. Use someone like a chicken drumstick you buy at a fast food shop. Eat what you want and treat the left overs as garbage. They can get drunk and pick fights. They can trash everyone around them, and themselves. And if anyone complains they get ridiculed and attacked for being a puritan moralist who just resents anyone else having a "good time".
Then the other side of the picture involves. Some of them have started to suffer liver damage and brain damage from all the drinking. Some of them have been infected with STDs and they can't even remember where they contracted them. That happens with men too, of course. The issue is, some girls seem to think it's a good idea to copy them.
So that's how they want to prove something. It's how they get a sense of self. Girls set out to out do the boys, and don't stop to ask: who said the wild boys had the right idea about how to live? In both cases, the issue can be a lack of hope for anything better.
If you want to see the harm done by living purely for this world, there it is. To have an identity and a sense of self-worth, you have to show off and get the attention of others in the quickest and easiest way. The only value you place on yourself is the value other people seem to place on you. And some of those others only value what they can get some use of, or amusement from.
If people get their sense of worth from God, they do not need the approval of others. If someone really knows that God cares about them and values them, they do not have the same need to get social approval or prove something by making a reputation. So they are not so prone to damage themselves by trying to be the biggest rager of dare-devil in the world. And they might live longer that way.
That is easy to say. If you want human company and friendship, it's difficult not to try and get the attention and applause of other people. But then, which people do you want to get noticed by? If it's the 'fun crowd' who do all the raging, what happens if they also demand self-destructive or denigrating behaviour from you?
I've been there myself. This is not some wise old man who knows it all, it is a survivor of mistakes made in taking a foolish, misguided approach to life. But I was never so desperate that I would let other people gull me into making a complete wreck of myself. Even before actually becoming a Christian, I had some sense of a God who cared. There was something in the universe apart from blind chance and the approval of other human beings. That saved me from destoying myself.
One of the most miserable cases I heard of was this: a young man wanted in to a gang. Their rite of initiation was that you had to climb out of a train window; crawl across the roof of the train and back in by a window on the other side - while the train was moving. He tried to do it, fell and broke his neck. He is now quadraplegic. That was the price of trying to be part of the crowd he thought were cool. And zillions of people can comment about how foolish it was, and yet people still do it. Another case was a girl who became wildly promiscuous because she thought that was the only way to get boys to like her - or at least notice her. This is not news. People have known about this for centuries. Trouble is, it keeps happening.
So am I right in thinking that this happens when people do not have a sense of God caring? They think that impressing certain people is the only way to get a life? Or they think 'life's a bitch and then you die', so what's to be lost by taking chances?
For years the so-called 'liberated thinkers' have been trying to eliminate the influence of Christianity from the western world. The trouble is, they have nothing better to replace it with.