How to horrify your children

Dear Hannah,

Time Magazine asked Americans which of our behaviors would horrify our children, but I don't think Cindy Crawford (or even Time Magazine) understood the question.  She answered that our children would be horrified by our "otherness" -- the so-called inability to recognize our sameness.  But our kids will probably answer that we failed to recognize irreconcilable differences.

To be fair to Mrs. Crawford, for whose bikini photos I maintain the deepest of respect, almost no parents understand the question.  My take on it is simple.  When we ask which of our practices are most likely to horrify our children, we aren't really asking what we've done wrong.  Upon closer examination, we're asking which things we thought we were doing right.

The things that annoy our kids are usually the things we take too radically.  The things we're sure they'll go wild for are the things they're most likely to throw away -- because they've already seen us go wild for them.  Our sins, contrary to the popular opinion, aren't acts of evil committed for evil's sake.  They are acts of stupidity committed in the pursuit of morality.   Our children are smart enough to know when we've made them miserable.  They'll tell us how we did it when they're old enough to know why we shouldn't have done it.

What our children won't criticize are the acts too unpopular, at this time, for us to commit.  They won't criticize them because we won't really commit them.  They'll criticize the things we champion in our popular magazines.  They'll criticize the imbalanced doctrines of our churches and colleges and governments.  What Mrs. Crawford and the American majority have forgotten isn't only that their morality is deeply entrenched in the worlds of law and business, but that it is supreme and unchallenged in almost all matters of popular culture.  And because every choice we make is an exclusion of something else, a radical decision is a radical exclusion.  The things our children miss will be the things our children want; and the things our children want will topple the imbalanced world we've built for them.  We pass many things on to our children, but our radicalism on pet issues isn't often one of them.

We believe that by handing our children a world free of judgment we're excluding exclusion; but what we're really doing is giving them a world where they're afraid to express their preferences.  It's a world where our children are told to not prefer skill, and brains, and beauty -- a world in which we're told to ignore obvious dangers, and taught to scrutinize obvious innocents.  We haven't been telling our children to not judge.   We've been telling them not to live.  We think they'll be reading Dreams from my Father.  In truth they're more likely to burn it.

Ironically, from the earliest stages of education, we've also been telling our children that mankind evolved from the animals.  What they'll realize, if they're intelligent, is that mankind can evolve from mankind.  And they'll realize that if there's any reason humanity look and feel very similar, it's because our minds are incredibly different.  The dogs have hundreds of breeds and the finches have all sorts of beaks -- because dogs and finches adapt with their bodies.  But man's biggest adaptations are spiritual, and we recognize his evolution not only by the way his environment shapes him, but in the way he shapes his environment.  Our evolution is marked not by our bodies, but by the quality of our civilizations and our ability to hand them to our children.

Our unwillingness to judge hostile foreigners and domestic enemies by the ideological superstructures responsible for shaping our environments isn't actually an indifference to men, but an indifference to outcomes -- and in the realest sense a denial of any kind of civilization.  Our children will probably not hate us for our otherness, but for our idiocy and weakness.  And when we show our children paintings of the Puritans and the Indians and ask them whether we'd have the Indians do any different, they might for the moment answer no.  But later on they'll wonder why we didn't do what was necessary to avoid ending up like the Indians.

Your father,


  1. Jeremy, you are a favorite antagonist of mine. I am thanking your for this journal in my time of thanksgiving.

    1. And I'm thankful for my readers! Happy thanksgiving, Craig!

  2. Hello Jeremy, I just ran into you blog. I am grateful for writers such as yourself who take inexplicably controversial issues in such a mundane manner.
    I too have a little girl and am afraid this is the world we are leaving them.

  3. Humans harbor brain structures analogous to those in herding animals, and the briefest of observations proves that we do, in fact, herd. (Pop culture and fashion are but two blindingly obvious examples.)

    People's herding impulse also visibly undergoes cyclical changes, where sometimes it is governed by fear/anger and other times trust/optimism. This is central to the Socionomic Hypothesis ( )

    For a long, long time (since the mid-1970's) social mood has been in an uptrend, entering into a once-in-three-centuries mania quite visibly in 1995. We've been there ever since, and this manic optimism yielded pathological trust, suicidal openness and totalitarian tolerance.

    When social mood rolls over from this Popular Delusion, what follows will utterly shock most people into catatonia. Immiscible peoples have been invited to shuffle together during a period of manic tolerance, and when that tolerance turns to fear and distrust, the energies of rage will be as same-poles of magnets forced into proximity.

    Look around and note how few people have any sense at all what an historical absurdity is this time and Narrative.


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