I was down at the creek the other day with my grandson. He’s not yet three years old, but he was having a pretty good time wading, exploring around, and throwing rocks in the water. Just being a kid. Being pretty free to do what he pleases, within reason of course, but not a care in the world, really. It’s fun to see him like that. He’s being brought up to enjoy nature, and the outdoors, but also to respect it. You know, the concept of sharing this world with other living things, and people. He lives in Marin County, CA., just north of San Francisco. That is both the good and the bad of it.
Marin County is a beautiful place, a collection of small towns scattered around the foot of Mt. Tamalpais, towns that house some pretty comfortable people. Towns that tend to be at the forefront of many important cultural issues, like conservation (recycling, alternative energy, voluntary water rationing, natural foods, etc.). But it is also an environment that has always been at the forefront of the ‘human potential movement’ (meditation, yoga, EST/personal coaching, laugh therapy, dream analysis, spiritual feminism, goddess worship, etc. etc. It incubates and breeds a multi-faceted pallet of new-age therapeutic modalities, along with a smorgasbord of eastern religious philosophies to choose from, like ice cream flavors at the local Baskin-Robbins. In other words, there are a lot of people living around here with a lot of money, and a lot of time on their hands. And these theologies spread out from here, up and down the west coast and across the country.
While my grandson played uninhibited in and around the creek, another child, about 4 or 5 years old, was trying to enjoy the same things while the mother did everything in the PC handbook to keep this particular child from being free, or having any fun. The profound and enduring image I have, the image that has prompted me to write, is that of the child grabbing hold of a thick branch on a sturdy creek-side bush, and giving it a little shake just to hear the rustling of its leaves. The child was told by the mother to “please stop doing that”. “Why?” asked the child. “Because”, said the mother “the bush is alive. You’ll hurt it.”
And I think she actually wanted to say “You’ll hurt its FEELINGS.” I have no doubt that, had I not been there, she would have told the child exactly that. I’ve heard it all too many times before. It is the new child-rearing theology. Everything is ‘feelings’ based. Everything takes a back seat to sensitivity. I see it, and hear it, constantly from mothers and fathers around the communities. I have been well aware of the trend (tsunami actually) for a very long time, but being out and about with my grandson has given me increased, up-close and personal, exposure to it. On the playgrounds I hear fathers asking their 3 year-olds for permission to run an errand on the way home. I hear mothers asking their children if it’s OK to have lunch now, if it’s OK to leave the park, if it’s OK if mommy talks to another mother while the child plays in the sand.
If the parents are not busy getting their children’s permission to breathe, they are busy instructing their kids to be offensively sensitive and polite.
Example: At a children’s playground (sandbox with swings and jungle gym) I heard a father instruct his son to ask another child “is it OK, please, if I play NEAR you?” Then the mother of the other child asked her daughter if it was OK if the little boy played near her. After getting her daughters permission, she then instructed her little girl to say to the little boy “Yes, you may, thank you for asking”. And then (I kid you not), the father of the boy instructed his son to thank the little girl for thanking him for asking.
Aaahaharrrrhaaah!!! Somebody please kill me now!
Besides torturing their children with such obnoxious displays of fake civility, I also see these mothers and fathers cow towing and acquiescing to every whim the child has, and to every demand the child makes. I see adults wanting to be friends with their children, rather than parents to them. And I see these very same parents pretending deep involvement with their children while simultaneously carrying on incessant, and equally insufferable, conversations on cell phones permanently attatched to the sides of their heads. These children, and their deeper reality, are actually being ignored. They cry over a moderately raised voice, an occasional ‘No, I’m sorry’, or a barely visible bruise from an accidental fall on the soft grass. In a climate so steeped in political correctness, the kids are being conditioned to be afraid. They are growing up to be unusually polite, but they are also, quietly, becoming very, very angry. Eventually they’re going to turn to their parents and say “I’m really tired of making all your fucking decisions for you. Make your own damn decision for once in your life. I’m not your parent, and you’re not my friend.” At that point I would fully expect the parents to cry, particularly the father, who has, over the course of time, been disrespected, marginalized, and fully emasculated by his own unwillingness to reject the very culture that has been diminishing his importance and stealing his confidence like a thief in the night.
When a community lines up en masse to buy the PC manifesto, those people have already surrendered their individuality, and their power. It is a sad thing to see, and it will have enormous, and pathetic, consequences for their children. The fathers of these children are becoming feminized yoga-heads, fully embracing these theologies because it has become easier for them than actually (uh) BEING A MAN! And because the women might be offended by their maleness.
Let’s call PC what it actually is.