Thursday, May 29, 2014

"An Essay-Style History Question"

“America is a country without parents.” 


I cannot believe my good fortune.  That is exactly the question I wanted!

I am telling you, dude, America is a country without parents.  They were “Absentee Parents”, to be sure, but they were parents nonetheless.  In that they gave birth to us like Portugal and The Netherlands did not. 

And then one day, fed up with what was perceived as intolerable “parental abuse”, the kids rose up and locked their parents out of the house.  (For those who aren’t following this, England is the parents and the Thirteen Colonies are the kids.  Is what I’m saying.)

The parents were good to the kids.  Or so they believed.  They provided them with their basic necessities (many crafted from raw materials imported from America at cut-rate prices), they protected them from trouble (“trouble” meaning the Indians, although, the kids would later learn that their parents were secretly paying the Indians to stir up much of that trouble, and they were not happy about that.  Nor were they happy with the onerous taxes England imposed, they said, to protect the Colonists from the Indians, whom it turned out they had been paying – arguably with American tax money – to make trouble.)

The kids had had enough.  In the spirit of Popeye, who would express similar sentiments a century and a half later, “That’s all they could stands; they could not stands no more.”

The thing is, in order to attain victory, “victory” defined by keeping their parents permanently out of the house, all thirteen children (Read:  “Colonists.”  Stay with me here) had to agree to the “lockout” and work as a unit to accomplish that objective. 

You cannot keep the parents out of some of the rooms while welcoming them into others.  It was an all or nothing proposition.  If even one kid wimps out, the parents are back in the house. 

And boy, are they angry!  (Meaning, if the insurgents did not hang together, they would most certainly hang separately.)

The older siblings – they’re solid.  They’re fed up with the parental exploitation and abuse and they know what has to be done.  It’s the five year-olds, and under, the smaller and the weaker offspring that are the problem.  Their attachment to the adult protection is stronger, making them more likely to whimper and weaken, due to their habitual need for their reassuring presence.

The waverers needed to be persuaded.  So they negotiate.  What do the weaker siblings want?  What can they promise that will entice them reliably into the fold?

The answer:


“We want equal rights with the Big Kids.  And we do not want anyone telling us what to do.  Ever!”

“Is that a deal breaker?”

“Yay, verily, it is.”  (And they aggressively stick out their lower lips to underscore that they mean it.)

Seeing no alternative and an urgent necessity, the Big Kids dutifully surrender to their demands. 

The result:

“States’ – sorry, I mean – “Kids’ Rights.”

When the war was won, the “country (now) without parents” jubilantly celebrated, the victorious youngster jumping on the beds and eating cookies for breakfast.  (And lo to anyone advising nutritional guidelines.)

It was total freedom.  The kids could decorate their rooms any way they wanted, and they could leave their discarded clothing all over the floor.  There was no “bedtime”; everyone could stay up as late as they wanted, and even watch television – or the Colonial equivalent of television which was looking out the window – before finishing their homework.  They had earned it, by vanquishing their parents.

No longer could anyone tell them what to do.

There were difficulties, of course.  For example, the communal areas – the living room and the privy – how would their maintenance and use be determined?  Would it be “mutual agreement” or “Everyone for themselves’?

The problem with a “country without parents” is that nobody is ultimately in charge.  Except the kids.  Any sniff of the Big Kids’ throwing their weight around, however, and you’ve got another rebellion on your hands, the “New Revolutionaries” drawing inspiration from the original rebellion, possibly even adopting their historically resonating nicknames.

One has to wonder if the more powerful siblings were ever truly serious about “Kids’ Rights”, or were they simply kidding around.  And by “kidding around” I mean lying to the less powerful siblings so they would acquiesce the plan.

To attain a certain objective, you make a promise you did not entirely take seriously, only to discover that you are stuck with the consequences of that promise because the people you originally made it to did.  And there is no governing authority to break the logjam.  (There’s the Supreme Court.  But, please.)

As a concept, “States’ Rights” is not necessarily bad.  (With the exception of the civil rights area, where it has never once been acceptable, and while I’m at it, P.U.) 

I read recently where Vermont will be experimenting with a Universal Health Care system.  That seems like a productive purpose for States’ Rights.  Let ‘em try it, and see how it functions.  If there are glitches, they can be tinkered with on a smaller, regional scale. 

And if it works out, then other states – whose citizens don’t want to die when they get really sick and they don’t have health insurance or their private insurers say “We’ve paid out enough” – will follow their lead.  Ditto for drug de-criminialization.  

Certain problems, on the other hand, logistically go "Ha!" at state-by-state experimentation.  If one state, for example, has tough gun-purchasing regulations while another state does not… well you can see where that’s going.  To be practically effective, the gun issue requires a national response.  And in a country without parents, where nobody can tell anyone else what to do…

I would not hold my breath.  (And hope the shooter chooses another theater in the multiplex.)

A family comprised entirely of self-governing children is a “natural” for a television series on Nickelodeon.

But as a template for a country…

It is a “Noble Experiment.” 

Which is not the same as saying, “It works.”


Michelle said...

You forgot the rift among the older children that caused a civil war. Some siblings are always putting others down, and rebelling against each other.

Anonymous said...

Nice. It needs to be put to music, like Schoolhouse Rock

Anonymous said...

Very nice