Sunday, February 8, 2009

An Odd Promise

Seven Ages of Man Stained glass window

I very much enjoy reading Dan W. over at ashes, ashes, all fall down, but one of his recent posts has me puzzled, and, after considerable thought, may be at the core of the problems that we face as a species.

Dan is an educator, and if his writings are any clue to his abilities in this area, he would be one of those teachers with whom I would be most pleased with his job performance. But his recent post

On This Subject, Don't Fuck With Me

Leaves me to ponder our “inborn” need to provide for our children. This is a critique of his post, not a critique of his character. I do not wish to begin a battle, but instead a discussion.

I have two boys, and I adore them. But they have been given their own souls and their own fate. I can only give them the abilities to physically meet those. I cannot give them the ability to meet the future days with joy, that is the function of their soul, not mine. I cannot promise them the luxury of thriving, that is just a luxury that we may have squandered for our own selfish desires. I cannot provide them with the moral strength to resist the temptations of the flesh, I can only provide an example that they may or may not wish to emulate.

Probably the single most important personal virtue is that of humility. I would venture to say that Dan is infected with the arrogance found in the root disease of the current educational establishment in the United States. That is that the ability to teach is more important that the ability to learn. That the teacher can dictate the student’s success.

The promises which Dan speaks of are the artifacts of a people steeped in hereditary wealth. But those things that he wishes to promise are not inalienable rights, but a temporary distortion of the laws of entropy. Each generation will meet their own challenges, most of which will be inadvertently foisted them on the generations that preceded them. I fear that promising them our outdated desires and expectations may well lead them into a dead-end of our making.

So, Dan, you may promise to give those things to your children, but in truth, they are not yours to give. You can only pray that you have given them the strength to weather the storm.

Winter is coming.

4 comments:

feminizedwesternmale said...

You are being too kind: An enlightened AND humble heart (i.e. God-fearing) wouldn't feel this entitlement (let alone make a public pronouncement).

We see this in a time of fear, but still relative overabundance. Imagine how it will be when this is stripped away?

Time and God teaches us that our measure of worth transcends circumstances, but our behavior is the harbinger of our tradition.

A Civilization crisis is much greater in time and duration than we would ever expect from the worst financial crisis.

You've got your finger on the pulse! Great Blog. Mike

Överlevare said...

For the first time, I disagree. Of course you can´t promise anything. Of course you can´t ensure your kids are going to be this way or that way, ways you think will grant them a better life.
But aren´t you supposed, as a parent, to try?

Degringolade said...

One always tries Överlevare, but to make a valiant attempt is one thing. To promise is another.

To promise your children happiness is definitely a promise that is not within a parents capability. Happiness is a function of the relationship of the individual soul to the world around it.

Thriving is a similar unfound promise. One can give attempt to teach the child the necessary tools, but it is up the soul of the child to pick up the tools and use them.

All a parent can do is lead by example, once the child is out from under the wing, all bets are off.

We may be entering a time where even simple promises of warmth and food may become increasingly difficult to deliver on. To promise such to a child is, for all intents and purposes a lie.

One can only promise something that is within ones power to deliver. What Dan wishes is not within his power to deliver.

It does not mean he shouldn't try. Just don't make promises that you aren't certain you can keep.

PS: If this is the first time you have disagreed with me, that is unusual. I will have to start trying harder.

Chris said...

In this case I have to agree with ya. You definitely need to try harder.