Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Unexamined Life

This afternoon at the library, a lady told me that her little daughter was admiring baby William. "She's always looking out for babies!" said Mom. Sure enough, in a moment her daughter pulled a book about little sisters off the shelf. Mom issued a firm veto. "No little sisters here," she said. "Mommy is done."
A bit later her son brought her a science book. "Mom, what's evolution?" he asked.
"No, it's against the Bible," said Mom, discarding it onto the table without looking at it.

As I silently digested this, I watched the one of the denizens of the fancy new teens' room keeping watch for the security guard on his rounds. Insulated from the rest of the population, the inhabitants of the room had little incentive to shake off the peculiarly adolescent forms of narcissism and indolence. The boys, scrofulous and shaggy, pants too big and limbs too long; the girls in their desperate makeup and their tight shirts; everyone slumped on couches swiping at phones or watching the video game up on the big flatscreen. There was a constant mutter of joyless laughter.

Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living, and Aristotle proposes that happiness is the highest end of all action. I don't know what constitutes happiness in the minds of the teenagers at the library, but the teen room doesn't seem to be providing it. I don't know what the examined life means to the lady whose sense of Christianity encompasses both creationism and birth control. And what do happiness and the examined life mean to me? If I am a sign of contradiction to the world, am I at least constant in my contradiction, or am I merely contradicting myself?

I don't particularly want my daughters hanging out in the teen room because it seems like more of a hindrance to the examined life than a help to it. I can't control their lives or their future decisions, but I can do my level best to assure that if they ever do live the unexamined life in the library, it will be by choice and not through ignorance.

I also promote their ultimate happiness by giving them little sisters.


Jenny said...

"I also promote their ultimate happiness by giving them little sisters."

My older children adore their baby sister. It makes me sad that so many big kids are never given the opportunity to experience that kind of disinterested love.

Not intending to be overly flip, but many times Mommy is done so the family can afford the phones and video games that enable the unexamined life.

One of my biggest fears with my children being in the public schools as they get older is that lifeless, defeated look in the eyes of most teenagers. It is hard to counter if they swim in it eight hours a day. The striking thing about most homeschool kids is that they will do more than glance and mutter at you when trying to have conversation.

August said...

Someone once mentioned Montessori had this age group that covered pre-teen to early teens in which she thought they should work with adults. Stuff like gardening, farming, etc...
So they hit their teens already feeling off, because most of them didn't have those years of productive work that would make them feel a part of society, and then the biological disconnect gets worse. Marriage, family, etc... is an obligation, but also an environment. In the proper environment we see proper gene expression and subsequently more of the healthy behaviors we like to see expressed. In this novel environment called adolescense we get what you see in the teen room.