Supposing children should be ruled by their parents, what then?

Supposing children should be ruled by their parents, what then?

Can there be any genuine knowledge about how people should live their lives? Or, are we limited to having, just, like, opinions, man?

Should a person have good manners? Follow the law? Eat meat? Drive a hybrid? Swear? Pirate software? Read books? Have good piano technique? Have physical health? Mental health? Do drugs? Care what people think about them? Try to fit in? Be authentic? Follow your heart? Lie? White lie? Get married? Have children? How should society be organized? Should it have high taxes? Welfare? Government-run health care? One person, one vote? Fiat currency? Inflation? Open borders? Minimum wage? Should police be armed? Profile? Drugs be legal? Prostitution? Should God be acknowledged? In schools? By government? Should everyone go to college? Graduate school?

Should children be ruled by their parents?

These are all questions that, more or less, we cannot live life and avoid answering. But, an answer to each question is vulnerable to the response, “Yeah, well that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” But is that true? Are our answers to these questions only opinions? That is, may they not be true or false opinions? The range of answers people have for these questions is surely held to be one reason for considering them all to be just, like, someone’s opinion, man. And yet, we can’t assume at the outset that all of the answers must suffer the same fate. A variety of answers does not rule out a true or correct answer. Actually, a variety of answers is the condition that we would expect if there were potentially a correct answer.

And so we will begin with a question who’s answer seemingly cannot be quibbled with & thereby reduced to just, like, someone’s opinion, man: Should children be ruled by their parents?

This question provides a great example of how complicated answers to questions are, but their being complicated doesn’t mean that they aren’t susceptible to an answer. At a certain level, maybe until 8 or 9 years old, it seems non-controversial: it is incredibly likely that the parents know better than the child how they should spend their time. Children don’t have the experience to know the value of planning ahead. It could be said that they don’t understand the difference between happiness and fun. They won’t ever fulfill that defining function of maturity—doing what you don’t want to do—if they aren’t at some point in their youth made to do it.

But, for children older than that some people may take exception. We will note that the question is merely the rule of parents, and not necessarily rule by an iron fist—not necessarily authoritarian rule. The parent needs to preserve the important element of tough love, but as the child matures the parental role will need increasingly to resemble that ideal human type known as the statesman. The child will require independence to develop his personality and ultimately to develop into an adult. But, until the child is actually ready to be an adult, he or she would be very lucky to have a statesman-parent that stubbornly reserved the last word and administered tough love when it was necessary. Some great literary examples of this are the King of the Hill episodes Husky Bobby (S2E6), Get Your Freak Off (S7E1) and Reborn to be Wild (S8E2).

It will be objected that such statesman-parents are few and far between. If a child doesn’t have such parents, then should that child be ruled by their parents? Here we arrive at one of the great differences between Classical and Modern thought. For the Classics, the unlikelihood of something right happening does not change the fact that such a thing happening is what would be simply right. It follows then, that in practice almost everything that actually happens would be a mixture of right and wrong. Even so, it is hasty to conclude from the complicated nature of reality that certain outcomes wouldn’t simply be right. Certainly, here we have to conclude that children should be ruled by their parents, and that their parents should be qualified to rule, i.e. they should be statesman-parents. The actors in situations that actually happen should try to tend toward this ideal. That this ideal is unlikely to simply be attained we admitted by saying that a child would be lucky to have such parents. The child would be lucky because human life is not necessarily or generally characterized by what is right.

And so we return to our question: Supposing children should be ruled by their parents, what then?

Then we’d have consider in which other respects there may be ideal ways to live life. That a situation is complicated or difficult wouldn’t necessarily reduce decisions and actions concerning it to being a matter of just, like, someone’s opinion, man. Instead, we may have found a model to inform us in such situations: when applicable, we should be in other situations the equivalent of the parent trying to be the statesman.

Categories: commentary

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