Monday, May 29, 2017

The Calm of Real-World Liberals, and the One-Sidedness of Parental Signaling

This blog has been cold this weekend as the writer found himself blissfully distant from any sort of internet connection. We spent our weekend camping at a hippie music festival in eastern Missouri with lots of day hiking mixed in. A couple things to mention from that. First, Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Conservation Area are well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the St Francois Mountains. Second, the music festival, full of people who are probably leftists (if you asked them), was surprisingly devoid of politics. The most I saw was a single Bernie bumper sticker. I didn't encounter one iota of Trump bashing, which I pretty well expected. The closest I got into politics was with an older fellow decked out in tie-dye whom my girlfriend recognized as a regular from the now-defunct festival Schwagstock. (In fact he lived on the property.) We got into a conversation about how that land had been essentially stolen by the government (it is now Echo Bluff State Park). I decided to test the waters a bit and throw out the analogy with the Oregon standoff, where a group of armed right-wingers -- who were vilified by the media and liberals -- stood ground against the very same sort of shady theft of private land by the government. He understood the comparison and was in complete agreement with me. I don't have any sort of analysis to offer on all this, but I thought the observations were worth sharing. It does seem to me that leftists in the real-world may not be so consumed with the rabid anti-Trump hysteria that we see when we observe the media and even social media. This is a promising observation, of course, and would seem to be counter-evidence to my conviction that the country is headed fast to schism and civil war. Or perhaps the observation is moot. Missouri hippies tend to be people-of-the-woods types who aren't really comparable to the coastal liberals that dominate the left.

Today we picked our daughter up and we're all back home, which is really the happiest aspect of the whole long weekend, and that joy reminds me of the signaling I receive as a parent. Of all the advice I've received as a parent, the most common is that parents need to make sure they fully embrace the joys of parenting while their children are young. We are doting parents and we appreciate the advice and we think it is a worthwhile sentiment. But what I realize is that I very rarely encounter the counter-balancing message. The call to enjoy parenting is representative of the typical theme in modern America: embrace of pleasure. Make sure that you see parenting as pleasurable rather than stressful. Parenting is both pleasurable and stressful, and the advice is somewhat superficial. Does it really matter whether or not I enjoy parenthood? This is the sort of ├╝ber individualism that permeates our society. I get very little signaling on what matters more: raising a good human. It seems to me that society should be much more concerned whether I raise children who will benefit society rather than whether or not I enjoy the process. I also find that society doesn't help me to counter my natural weakness as a parent. Our tendency (the mother more than me) is to want to indulge the child. To spoil her. We try not to, because of our own convictions. But society doesn't generally help us in that aspect. I find myself being careful not to appear too strict while in public. It seems that society should serve the opposite role. It should encourage proper and, at times, difficult parenting. This may seem like a silly rant, but I can't help but think that the signaling young parents receive might be the most significant observation one can make about a society.

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