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Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 10:23amSanction this postReply
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This idea struck me recently and I wanted to share it for discussion in the General Forum rather than the Parenting Forum because of its wide implications.

No human being on this planet ever chose to be conceived and born. Yet each one begins life as a totally helpless infant. It is commonly accepted that parents owe children the basics needed to help them to grow into fully functioning adults. Conversely, it is commonly accepted that children need to accept their parents' authority as a form of surrogate reasoning until they can learn to use their own minds effectively to satisfy their own requirements for survival.

A more rigorous argument involves the contrast between unchosen birth and unchosen death. In a free society, no person may initiate physical force or fraud against another human being based on the natural right to life via self-ownership. The most heinous form of aggression is murder or "wrongful death." What about "wrongful birth"? This latter term normally aims at legally suing doctors for not warning future parents about congenital problems with a future or current fetus that would lead them to choose not to conceive or to abort. This legal precedent raises interesting moral issues about genetically fit but spiritually unfit parents who bring children into the world for any of a number of "conventional" reasons – everyone else does it, carry the family name, etc. – but who are ultimately and de facto demanding that their children exist as means to their ends rather than respecting them as ends in themselves.

Because so many people reproduce for ignoble and poorly-reasoned causes, one must ask about standards by which to judge parents and parenting methods. No matter how I examine it, I cannot help but view reproduction as a profound act of force rivaling that of murder – and with a similar sentence. Typical penalties for murder involve either outright execution or a slow "living death" of jail sentences lasting decades. Similarly, the "natural penalty" for becoming a parent involves a sentence of childrearing lasting decades. This observation in turn leads to acceptable and unacceptable parenting attitudes. By that, I mean that parents should always view their children as responsibilities to steward and release rather than as properties to own and control. Further elucidating the mirror images of birth and death, their respective "arrows of time" point in opposite directions as measured by the "natural law" view of reality and morality. Just as no one can naturally raise the innocent dead back to the living, so no one can morally put the innocent living forward to the dead. This means that the arrow of responsibility for raising a born child to adulthood falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents with no reciprocal obligation to parent falling on the shoulders of the child.

People often call children "ungrateful" for not appreciating all their parents do for them. I dissent. Since no child asks to be born, every child ought to demand from his parents that they do all they can to raise him into a functioning adult. This does not mean parents demanding mindless obedience from their children, but parents providing mindful instruction to children.

I could explore this further but this is just a brief post rather than a full article. I wanted to explore the topic with experience parents and others since I am childfree and intend to remain that way. I admit my inexperience with children and will yield that deficiency from the outset.



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Post 1

Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 11:25amSanction this postReply
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Well as a parent I could not agree with you more.
So many people out there having children that really should not be.
On the flip side many people that would make outstanding parents Luke being one of them and choose not to.

It is often the brightest and most rational and most capable of people that chose to remain childless.

I cannot count the number of times I've seen negectful abusive asshats in the grocery store or at the park treating their children like chatel or worse..it gets me really angry.



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Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 12:30pmSanction this postReply
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Luke:

If you think about it, 'inexperience with children' is universal in every generation.

10,000 yrs of modern history, and each generation was raised by largely rookie managment. By the time management has finished making its rookie mistakes, they are permamently retired from active management, and delegated to the board, where their experience is largely ignored by the new rookie management.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Somehow, it works. More or less.

From experience, having the first is no help in having the second. It is like they come with totally different User's Manuals. Having frantically read the first one's User Manual from cover to cover pointlessly only after the fact, it is of no useful advice when the second one shows up.

Children do not ask to show up. Once invited, they are owed some hospitality when they arrive, until they are viable and able to make their own responsible mistakes which they are universally very eager to do.

Conception is a result of copulation. I understand the concept of accidental/unintended conception, but what is totally mindboggling is the concept of accidental/unintended copulation.

How would that actually work? As best as I can imagine(usually after a few beers), it would have to involve two properly attentive human beings colliding at the right attitude at a high rate of speed, and then, in the ensuing confused/dazed struggle to disengage, accidentally completing the never imagined deal.

How often does that happen? Does it happen often enough that it is a circumstance we need to ponder?



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Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 12:43pmSanction this postReply
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The government's view of children is far far worse, Luke, and the cultural pollution resulting from that view is completely disgusting. 



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Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 2:00pmSanction this postReply
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TSI, could you please elaborate?

I am already familiar with the history of Prussian education and its importation into America via the influence of Benjamin Rush and others who wanted a homogeneous and easily governed populace.

Was there something more to your point?



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Post 5

Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 1:13pmSanction this postReply
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No autonomous being has had is choices violated. A human infant does not acquire rights or autonomy until after
birth.

ruveyn



Post 6

Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 3:14pmSanction this postReply
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I'll speak to this from you, Luke:

Because so many people reproduce for ignoble and poorly-reasoned causes, one must ask about standards by which to judge parents and parenting methods. No matter how I examine it, I cannot help but view reproduction as a profound act of force rivaling that of murder – and with a similar sentence.

I agree that there are those who reproduce for poorly reasoned causes. But I have to ask if you see any well reasoned causes...ever?

People often call children "ungrateful" for not appreciating all their parents do for them. I dissent. Since no child asks to be born, every child ought to demand from his parents that they do all they can to raise him into a functioning adult

And

Just as no one can naturally raise the innocent dead back to the living, so no one can morally put the innocent living forward to the dead. This means that the arrow of responsibility for raising a born child to adulthood falls squarely on the shoulders of the parents with no reciprocal obligation to parent falling on the shoulders of the child.


I think this view is a mistake in the human experience.  I'm not so much uncomfortable with the wild animal "raise and release" analogy as I am with the utter obliteration of any value systems generated by raising a family. If children feel no obligation toward parents who truly loved them all of their lives, something has gone terribly wrong in their system of value.  All I see in such an anti-view held by adult children is nihilism and narcissism. 

I mean, if reciprocal value for our primary teachers shouldn't be expected, should it be expected from anyone? Employers? Friends? Coworkers? Spouses? Why, when parents shouldn't expect it?

 The State is expert in promoting these nihilistic views through law and force aimed at controlling a parent's natural value for their children, and a child's need and natural desire to value him/herself.  Don't fall for it, Luke.




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Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 4:09pmSanction this postReply
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TSI wrote:

I mean, if reciprocal value for our primary teachers shouldn't be expected, should it be expected from anyone? Employers? Friends? Coworkers? Spouses? Why, when parents shouldn't expect it?

I should clarify that they should "earn" their children's love and respect rather than "demand" or "expect" it. Value for value, you know. Same with all other relationships.

Moreover, parents who do not "expect" love will not feel disappointed when they do not get it, whereas they will feel pleasantly surprised when they do.

(Edited by Luke Setzer on 12/18, 4:29pm)




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Sunday, December 18, 2011 - 4:29pmSanction this postReply
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I completely agree, Luke.



Post 9

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 7:05amSanction this postReply
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Luke:

On the most important level, I totally agree that the act of inviting another life to Nature's Table[*] should be prefaced with serious deliberation and respect for the obligation that implies. It is a specific act of invitation, and with it, comes responsibilities -- especially as described above; responsibilities to act in a manner which would be deserving of the love and respect of those children.

But having said that, I also see the political consequences. Imagine we are two tribes; one that holds the invitation to life to be a momentous act fraught with consequence and import, and the other that doesn't even regard it as an invitation, but rather, a seldom pondered consequence of jointly rubbing one out with someone else.

Which tribe is going to soon out-democracy-populate the other and dominate it politically?

Ouch.

regards,
Fred

[*]Nature's Table-- from labor leader A. Philip Randolph: "At Nature's Table, there are no reserved seats. You get what you can take; you keep what you can hold." ... as his argument for muscular politics.





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Monday, December 19, 2011 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
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Luke,

Unless I am missing the point of your argument, I don't understand your logic when you say that birth is the initiation of force by the parent against the child. Before a child is born, he or she doesn't exist as a rights-bearing individual. Therefore, birth cannot logically BE an initiation of force, because the latter requires the prior existence of a victim with rights that can be violated.



Post 11

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 4:49pmSanction this postReply
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William, do you not need to be thinking before you can choose not to think?

I do not agree with Luke's proposition, but I do appreciate the challenge, and his solution.  I also understand that this is not necessarily his own heartfelt conviction, but only a proposition to be explored and considered.  If we reject it out of hand on semantic grounds, we might miss an opportunity.

If the choice to think is a epi-choice, then the birth of a child might be epi-aggression.

What if two people simultaneously (more or less) land on opposite hemispheres of an asteroid and each claims the whole thing?

Problem statements such as these allow us to test the boundaries of our assumptions.
Fred hath writ: 10,000 yrs of modern history, and each generation was raised by largely rookie managment. By the time management has finished making its rookie mistakes, they are permamently retired from active management, and delegated to the board, where their experience is largely ignored by the new rookie management.
Actually - while that was my case as a parent, it was not as a child: I was raised by my grandparents.  My grandmother raised two generations - three of her own and then us four cousins in two cohorts - in the same home.  And this is not singular.  Anthropologist Augustin Fuentes among others of his generation is considering new approaches to understanding:
Agustin Fuentes on Human Nature, Early Experience, and Our Social Niche
By daniel.lende
Posted: February 6, 2011
Agustin Fuentes, professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, gave this in-depth talk “Social Cooperation, Niche Construction, and the Core Role of Intergenerational Bonding in Human Evolution”. It comes with a warm and touching introduction by Jim McKenna. Great to see both of my friends in action!
Augustin Fuentes, Human Nature and Early Experience from ACEatND on Vimeo.
His talk was part of a conference on Human Nature and Early Experience, and you can access more videos from the conference, including talks by Stephen Soumi, Douglas Fry, Vincent Felliti, Wenda Trevathan, and many other illumaries.
http://blogs.plos.org/neuroanthropology/2011/02/06/agustin-fuentes-on-human-nature-early-experience-and-our-social-niche/ 

I am now watching a History Channel video on Homo Erectus.  It has weaknesses  that I question, but one point made also by Fuentes above is that human babies are cute as all get out because they depend on and profit from allo-care.  It is not the man-woman-child nucleus that makes us human, but the entire social matrix.  Other large apes do not share neonates and immatures.  We do.  It is not all rookie management.  In fact, it seems largely not to have been, except that it is now.

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/19, 5:01pm)




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Monday, December 19, 2011 - 5:45pmSanction this postReply
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Michael:

I think it used to be -much- more common, not even that long ago, for there to be much more generational overlap in living arrangements. I also think it likely -- a near certainty -- that America, by necessity, is going to see a huge revival of that.

There was an era in between, largely the last half century, where generations separated as soon as they were able to. My elderly parents died in their 90's. They rattled around in the same home for the last 30 years, as was their wish. They cherished their independence, as did and does my wife's elderly mother, even though, for example, all three of them could have easily lived with any of their children, or even, together, and saved the immense cost of maintaining different way too big homes to rattle around in.


My observation is... as soon as they were able to, modern generations separated. What enabled them to do that on such a broad scale was totally artificial -- accelerated inter-generational benefits that were defined politically; resources largely borrowed from future generations by passing along massive debt instead of retirement assets.

But think about that reality; humans, as soon as they were able to (even if that ability was largely arrived at with funny political accounting that is going to turn out to be none too funny) voted with their feet, and separated.

When the current and coming generations are forced once again by necessity to remain in each others face, it is going to get ugly, especially with the politics that we've been tolerating. I'm not sure that broadly being locked up in the same hovels by necessity, listening to state lectures on what is really best for us is going to help much, given the already demonstrated desire to vote with our feet. We've run the expensive experiment, and generations -want- to separate.

Get those anthropologists working on this easily predictable coming issue. (It's already here. My 30 yr old niece is living with 85 yr old Grandma, and there is going to be knife fight.)

Get them talking about all that social matrix goodness, and lets hope Keanu Reeves doesn't show up unexpected to reveal it as the Borg Dream.

It is either going to be a rebirth of the idyllic Waltons, or a combination of "Logan's Run" and "Soylent Green."

regards,
Fred





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Monday, December 19, 2011 - 5:46pmSanction this postReply
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I think as a rhetorical device the proposition can carry considerable weight, e.g.:

"You forced your children into an existence they never chose and now have the nerve to demand their unconditional love and mindless obedience in gratitude for that violent beginning."



Post 14

Monday, December 19, 2011 - 5:56pmSanction this postReply
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Luke:

If one regards the universe as an overwhelmingly malevolent place, then that uninvited act is an assault; in fact, as potentially awful as the sum of all assaults receivable in a lifetime.


If one regards the universe as a largely benevolent place, then that uninvited act is an incredible gift; in fact, as potentially great as the sum of all gifts receivable in a lifetime.

If it's a crap shoot, then depending on the outcome, we either owe our kids an apology or a 'you're welcome,' and a 'good luck either way in the next life if there is one, and don't let the screen door slam on my ass on the way out.'

regards,
Fred








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Monday, December 19, 2011 - 6:05pmSanction this postReply
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Fred I commend you on always bringing me to chuckles and belly laughs regardless of the topic!



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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 5:19amSanction this postReply
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Fred, I think the child's "sense of life" of the universe as malevolent or benevolent depends largely on the people raising the child.  Hence, the ones who fall into the former deserve blame while those in the latter deserve praise.  Sadly, in a culture suffering largely from a deadly mix of misintegration in religion and disintegration in schools, too many fall into the former even if they think they are doing the right thing.  People really need to put much more thought into what constitutes "the good life" before shagging mindlessly.



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Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 5:31amSanction this postReply
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FB: "But think about that reality; humans, as soon as they were able to ...  voted with their feet, and separated."

Yes, that, too, is true, and it happened in the urbanized cultures where individuals could live on their own.  We tout the Horatio Alger stories, but in the one I read, Ragged Dick, orphans were sleeping in alleys, working at (scrambling for) odd jobs, and spending their leisure money at saloons.  On the way up, two boys (12 and 10) rent a boarding house room of their own. Harsh, indeed, it nonetheless shows that the social environment is more benevolent than the natural ecology.  Cities are complex habitats in which immatures can be independent.  And, as you note about the grandparents, they, too, can enjoy as much independence as they want. 

Evolution never stops, as we experience a tension between individualism and collectivism. 
LS:  "You forced your children into an existence they never chose and now have the nerve to demand their unconditional love and mindless obedience in gratitude for that violent beginning."
FB:  If one regards the universe as ....
It is not so much the universe at large as the family as the first universe you know.  Some are benevolent, others not.  Myself, I never demanded much of anything from our daughter, having understood from Ayn Rand's essays where my responsibilities and hers were delineated long before I became a parent.  For Luke's argument to carry any consequence, the first agreement would have to be on the nature of aggression and the initiation of force.  Most people seem to believe that the ends justify the means.  We hope to see the end of that as a social norm

(Edited to note that Luke got his last reply in ahead of this.  I agree with his point there: it is the family that defines the "universe" experienced by the child.)

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 12/20, 5:34am)




Post 18

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 6:05amSanction this postReply
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Micheal:

"It is not so much the universe at large as the family as the first universe you know."

Well put, and a fact. As the universe you -can- know.

Any attempt to know the universe as a whole, whether conveniently packed into an abstract 'social matrix' or not, will be futile for a 5 year old.

And as for social norm, wasn't he the fat guy forever planted on the end of the bar on 'Cheers?'

Our kids reach about 5 and then we send them off to the locally packaged social matrix to take their education. And by 4, they are largely who they are going to be their whole life, minus some skills and card tricks. Their values, their sense of right and wrong, their assessment of this existence they suddenly found themselves in, uninvited.


Luke is right, in that folks must, but I'm not sure that translates into folks do. And a -part- of the reason is, they are politically courted to believe that responsibility for outcomes lies externally, like, packaged up in some far off abstract social matrix. As in, when 'we' finally tweak in that social matrix, this whole business of constructing citizens against their will or interest or involvement or responsibility will finally become the well oiled machine that only others can achieve for us. When that unsinkable Titanic is finally constructed, then the transition from K-12 to the endless Thirteenth Grade of Life will be a reality, plus the odd concentration camp.

As opposed to the following alternative to scientific statism, a simple lecture on the way to Kindergarten. "Did you eat your breakfast? Need to do that every day. You know that school whose windows we've been gazing into all summer, looking at all the cool thing inside waiting for you? Well, remember, when you show up, it's not enough just to sit in your seat and do what you are told. You must do at least that, but it is not enough. You must reach up out of your seat and grab your own education by the throat, as if your life depends on it, because it does. It's ok to have all the fun you want learning stuff while you are doing all that, but that is job #1. Your education is your responsibility, don't let me down."

Thank-you, Dad. Not only for that speech, but for taking on the meat eating totalitarians in WWII.





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Post 19

Tuesday, December 20, 2011 - 6:53amSanction this postReply
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Fred I recently told my own son exactly that he is 15. He started the year with 70s in november he is pulling 80s and I recently asked his teachers how he is doing now and he is now up to the low 90s I'm really proud of him.
Last year before I had custody of him he was getting 40s.
After he is done absorbing atlas shrugged and starts asking even more than I can answer ill be pointing him to some of the excellent content here as well.

Building objectivists in canada one student at a time :)



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