Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Adults make decisions and so do children but is one actually any better than the other?

One of the realizations of becoming and being an adult has been the realization that nearly every decision humans make from childhood to adulthood can be measured as awful if you look at it from a certain point of view. And it's interesting that society has drawn a line in the sand, the age of eighteen, as the point where a person will now own all the terrible and awful decisions that they make.

A recent opinion piece from the New York Times observes that moderates and those with liberal views got shipwrecked the morning after the 2016 election. We were washed up half-naked on a cruel and hostile strand of beach, where people with disabilities are mocked, immigrants are reviled, grabbing women by their private parts is perfectly fine if you are a celebrity, etc. On this island, unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression, 100,000 plus Americans are dead, the president has been impeached for abuse of power and obstruction of congress, and the president has made an estimated 18,000 lies and misleading claims to the citizens of the country. The worst of it is that a shockingly large part of the president's core supporters loves this island we are marooned on just fine. It allows white men wearing camouflage to bear assault rifles to occupy the Michigan State House with Hitler's mustache scrawled on pictures of the governor, and it allows adults to indulge in their most barbaric selves.

And I want to point out my own use of the word "adult" there, because in any other context, a person under the age of 18 would just be dismissed as making a bad decision or a psychologist might say, "Their brain is not fully developed which prevents them from recognizing that the actions they take are terrible." And that made-up statement I could see a fictional psychologist (in my head) saying is biased toward liberalism. To clarify, it's only terrible because it's terrible to those of liberal views. To those with conservative views, the person brandishing the weapon and storming Michigan's House is a hero worth celebrating. Put another way, is a pedophile actually doing something awful when the only ones judging the decision are fellow pedophiles? Is a murderer actually doing something awful when the only ones around are other murderers? Do you see what I'm getting at? Where and what one is surrounded by matters a great deal.

So what then makes a decision terrible or good? I'm beginning to think that there are no terrible and no praise worthy (read as good) decisions. The good and the bad are determined by what goes against the norms of society. Society is kind of like a civilized mob or like those birds that all change direction at the same time in the has a flow to it. It moves in one direction or another with regard to things that I'm having a difficult time trying to nail down in my head. But there is a flow to it. In a society like ours that is deeply divided so that half the country is flowing in an entirely different pattern than the other half, finding out if a decision is good or bad seems to come down to location, location, location. It's also apparent to me that getting these patterns to merge with each other is not going to happen. If I were a blacksmith, I'd say that two different metals are not going to join together unless they are white hot and forced to do so through violence. What does white hot look like in America? You don't want to know...but it's happened only one time before in our much "storied" history.

If there is a point to my essay here, I think it is this: all decisions are bad and all decisions are good depending on where you stand morally, regardless of age. And what you use as a moral compass is going to depend on location, location, location. Adults are proving to make the same disastrous decisions that children make (or the same good ones), and age (to me) does not appear to be a factor. As Forrest Gump once said, "Stupid is as stupid does." Forrest never made a distinction regarding age, which ends up being kind of brilliant if you stop and think about it.

So what is society then? In my opinion, the whole of society is a made-up construct...a house of cards...and that includes all of our laws and the other things that millions of people believe in. It's weird to see it in this light, but the wars going on in our streets, the violence between cops and protestors, the mysterious hangings of black men in California, and the list goes on and making cracks in the smoke and mirrors that (I think) was put in place to keep people like me from seeing things as they truly are. I'm now seeing the wizard behind the curtain who is pulling all the levers. Instead of having a kind of reverence for the law and its enforcers, now I see that some dude in the past just wrote that law, and they said all of us should abide by it. And that other dude shot and killed this other man because he actually felt like doing that, and he has some kind of immunity because some other dude said he was immune. Like...what the hell? Is this what life really is? People have just been making up stuff for centuries and expecting others to live by it? Yes...that's exactly what has been going on. And, it's dizzying.

That's the overall effect I'm experiencing having been "marooned" on this desert island with the "President of the Flies" and where barbarity begins with the line, "You are not the boss of me," and just degrades to everyone saying, "I do what I want!" It strikes me as telling that the horrible decisions a child makes draws ire and condemnation from adults, when the same horrible decisions put into action by adults just makes people wring their hands in helplessness. But then again...maybe they are only horrible to me because of where I stand morally. There are others who clap and celebrate the decisions, because to them...they are beautiful and good. Maybe the demarcation line of the eighteenth birthday is just secretly a societal agreement with parents that "You are allowed to brainwash your child to whatever things you believe in up to this point. If it hasn't set in by then, they are free to pursue other things." That just sounds grotesque, doesn't it?

Well, maybe to some of us it does. Thoughts?


  1. The basis of human society, like with animals, was really all about mutual survival. By banding together, people increased their chances of survival. What's interesting is pretty much every religion has the same basic tenets about not murdering or stealing because society couldn't function if people went around killing indiscriminately and taking whatever they wanted.

    People who are running around with AR-15s and bazookas and refusing to wear masks are undermining the foundation of society as being about mutual survival.

  2. Not just California. Last I heard, there were five lynchings... (Making things so much worse...)

    Well, if the decision someone else makes hurts me, then I definitely won't like it. Too many of these "good" things haven't hurt them yet. And I say yet. Because, at some point, it will. Whether they recognize that the hurt came from their decision will determine if they grow or not.