Sociomics. Part 3: Child slavery
Is it a good idea to have a child these days, so that he becomes another slave of the system? Wouldn’t it be better to change the system first?
You may not ready for this yet, but your kids will definitely like it…
Jay: (singing softly) I’m fantaaaastic, so wooonderful, a geeeenius, and veeeeery haaaandsome... I do whateeeever I liiiiiiike.... (directs imaginary music with one hand) Dum-dum, dee-dum...
Vee: Hmmm... Jay, I think you’re a self-centered ego-trip.
Jay: Ha, ha, ha, ha! (laughing) Like you're not. That’s everybody!
(raises his head, tips his hat, and looks slyly up at Vee, then speaks softly) I've been thinking about a new working method.
Vee: Go on. I’m intrigued.
Jay: I think I'd like to assemble a special ops team, like the Mayor or the President has. They’ll go on top secret missions for me.
Vee: Where do you plan to find so many villains?
Jay: I’m going to use... children. (smiles)
Vee: (gazes at Jay, disconcerted)
Jay: (covering his face with his hat) They're little murder machines, they can do things most cutthroats would never dream of! They can make their way into the most inaccessible places, they can remain unnoticed in a crowd, they don't evoke suspicion... and they can carry out instructions exactly. (pauses, then continues, ecstatic) It’s genius! Sheer genius!
Vee: (disconcerted) Jay, you’re outdone yourself this time. You’re seriously planning on recruiting children to do your dirty work? So now they’ll be adding child slavery to the charges, eh?
Jay: Ha, ha, ha, ha! You're a naive one, aren't you? (in a cynical and ironic tone) You think I’m a bad person, cruel? (tapping his chest with a finger, speaks assertively) I’m an honest man! I have nothing to hide! (continues, calmly) And the children, the little children... have been stuck wearing a familial and societal dunce cap for far too long. They're servants in that madhouse they call the modern world. Years of slavery under their belts already.
Vee: Ummm... errrr... (disconcerted again) That’s a rather bold statement. Most people wouldn't agree. They'd say you just have a sick mind and, in general, that you’re completely bonkers. But there is a grain of truth in what you say. Do me a favor, give me a bit more detail on your idea.
Jay: Of course theywouldn't agree. That’s like asking a thief whether his clothing was stolen. (smiles broadly, almost laughs, then pauses before beginning to speak as if to himself) Well, well... bonkers? Yes! Completely? Pretty much! (laughs) And as far as the kids are concerned, it's all clear as day. (waves to indicate a nearby playground) Grown-ups tell their property – kids, of course - what to do, command them to do it, explain why they have to do it and how to do it, all backed up by the power of fear.
Jay: Fear, you know, is a brilliant thing! A weapon the powers that be use to control people! Our so-called parents use more or less the same methods. (turns to Vee, tipping his hat again) Astounding, isn't it? (a pause, then turns away and continues his monologue) They command their property. They beat it, curse at it, forbid it to do all kinds of things. Before you create something, you have to go ask permission! So that's it! (Raises one index finger, pointing upwards.) Right? You’ll get yours yet, you young whippersnapper, you! (laughs)
Vee: (gets up and walks over to a tree, leans against it, and stands watching the children play) I don't even know what to say. (spreads his hands and turns again to Jay, then continues to watch, hands behind his back) On the one hand, you’re right, grown-ups treat their children as their property. They tell them what to do and how. Parents, as a rule, don't tend to ask their children what they think. They just make them do what they think best.
Vee: They force them to go to school, to play sports, to do chores at home, like cleaning up or taking out the garbage. Most of it is done against the child’s will. And very often the parents have to resort to force and punitive measures. Worse, the parents often manipulate their children, taking advantage of their inexperience and naiveté. All this, of course, isn't really right or honest with respect to the children. (turns towards Jay, looks at him, and continues blandly) But there is another side of the question. Adults do need to raise their children, to make them familiar with the outside world, teach them to love work and knowledge. They have to help children adapt to the outside world and to society. The task of the adults is to teach their children how to behave in society, how to live in society. And it's clear enough that sometimes that means putting pressure on the children in order to focus their attention on the knowledge they need to acquire, so that they will be able, when all is said and done, to become fully functional members of society.
Vee: Correct me if I’m wrong about any of this.
Jay: You want me to agree with you? Is that it? (crosses his arms over his chest and mumbles) The big scumbags make little scumbags in their own image. (raises his head) It's wrong, you hear me? It’s wrong to foist a model of behavior they find convenient on their kids. And the kids are defenseless. Everybody knows that. And why is it done? Because the kids are their own private property! If I want, I can shatter the individuality nature gave to a child, making him play the role I need in society. If I want, I can break any urges that motivate him to act if they don’t fit in with generally accepted norms of behavior or lifestyles or views or principles...
Jay: A society of idiots establishes rules and stereotypes, and these people (pressing his lips) ... they mould those little milksops to make them fit those rules and stereotypes... they say: (sits up on the edge of the bench, raises his arms, and calls out) Gray masses! Calling the gray masses! And the parents go: (cupping his hands around his mouth) “Yes, sir! Your command will be carried out to the letter. Gray masses coming up!” And after a second they even think to add: (hunches over, rubs his hands, and says, in a cunning voice) “They’ll be just like us. We won't let them be outcasts from society to bring shame upon us. No, we’ll have something to boast about to our friends and relatives.” That's the ticket! That’s how the “private property” loses its independent existence! That’s how the “apples of their eyes” lose their own sense of self. (pauses, leans back on the bench, makes himself comfortable) That’s way we have so few geniuses today, people whose spirits stand strong no matter what. That’s why the world is changing so slowly. That’s why everything in the world is one-dimensional and standardized.
Jay: That’s the only way to see what's happening in our world! Whatever field you take, where are today's revolutionary discoveries? (sighs and looks apathetically at Vee, who paces slowly back and forth) People like you and me – we’re the rare exceptions! They're afraid of us, so they do everything they can to make sure there won't be bad seeds who disturb the usual order anymore.
Vee: Hmmm... I get it. It’s actually a very serious problem – when grown-ups impose worldviews and interests on children by force. That shatters a child’s psyche. It's the end of any impulse to keep living and growing. (stops, turns to Jay) And the most terrible thing is that the children are virtually helpless here, because their destruction as personalities is the work of those closest to them – their own parents. They trust the adults, and the adults lie to them. And in the end the children also begin to believe that what the parents do to them is really for their own good.
Vee: Over the first years of their child’s life, parents destroy his will, his drive to grow, imparting obedience to authority, fearfulness, and self-doubt. It isn't until they turn eighteen that children formally cease to be slaves. In point of fact, though, they remain slaves all their lives. By the time they’re twenty the destruction of their personalities is more or less complete, and one more brand new member of society is ready to embark upon a completely pointless existence.
Jay: Our wonderful world, where childhood is the smithy that forges slaves! Hee-hee-hee!
Vee: Sometimes the slaves rebel – what we call their teenage years.
Jay: Oh, that’s for sure. The one and only rebellion of their lives! (laughs loudly) Teenagers... I remember being a teenager. Fun times! When you have it all over the surrounding world, when you pull no punches and call a spade a spade! (chuckles) Those grown-up creeps who are supposed to know better what a kid needs – they drive him so nuts that by the time he's a teenager he starts having opinions of his own and even tries to do what he himself thinks is right.
Jay: And when he's a bit more grown up and exhausted by all the rules and instructions, the teenager thinks he's big enough to fight back against his parents and the world around him. (raises his head to look at Vee) He wants them to take him into consideration – and he says so, declaring it loudly. Him I understand. That's why I kill! (cackles, then screws his face in apparent indignation) “Naturally, that kind of disobedience, such insolence... simply can't be abided! How could this happen? We're not used to that! What the hell is going on around here?!” You can hear the words running through the so-called parents’ minds. (puts his index and middle fingers to his temple and speaks with loathing) The rest is the standard thing – fights, admonitions, the heavy artillery. Sanctions, like cutting off allowances, manipulating the teenager’s desires, things he's not yet able to do for himself.
Vee: (listens in silence)
Jay: (shrugs, looking off to one side, and speaks in a voice of childlike innocence) Ooops, I forgot one of the most important means of influencing a teenager. Trickiness! (resentful, his hand clenched into a fist) It’s guerilla warfare! A fiendish plan! You know what they do? Let me... let me tell you! (leans over towards Vee and whispers) They try to cater to the child. But not for the child's sake (shakes his head), oh dear me no. There’s a key condition! (relaxing) They cater to him when it comes to all kinds of stuff that’s not really important, temporarily becoming the kid's friend, or beginning to be, to get into all the details of his personal life... blah, blah, blah. (raising his voice) well, of course, that kind of trickery helps, because the teenager still can't really defend himself against deviousness and deceit. (opens his palm and then smacks it with his other hand) He’s pure, like a clean sheet of paper, and more straightforward than he’ll ever be again. Truth is his sword and his shield.
Jay: He hasn't yet been infected by the desire for money, unhealthy vanity, lies... Does that remind you of anybody in particular?! (raises his brows with a repulsive smile, hinting at himself) A principled warrior standing on guard to protect... himself. And even despite the fact that they stuffed all that shit into him since childhood, his genuine self is alive, despite everything, and seeks to assert itself while it’s still not too late! So for my squad this is the perfect choice! (laughs)
Vee: Unfortunately, most children lose the battle for their freedom. Otherwise we’d see a very different world. (a long pause, as he now sits on the bench, legs crossed) The only thing that vindicates the adults is that they genuinely, from the bottom of their hearts, mean to do the best they can for the child. They think they're doing something good for him.
Jay: Dear lord! Do you seriously believe that? (with a penetrating gaze at Vee) You mean it? No, no, no, no! I don't believe what you’re saying. Perhaps under that mask there’s an imposter and you're playing some kind of game at my expense? (peers under Vee's hood, trying to see what he looks like)
Vee: (smiling brightly) I’m only trying to be just. That is my credo. That’s why I examine every question, every problem, from all possible sides, so as not to miss anything of importance. You and I are talking about the kinds of things that can have a powerful impact on the future of mankind over the next millennium. Therefore I try to be objective, although I do realize that objectivity is an illusion.
Jay: Oh, you’re just defending them, making excuses for them! (waving a hand dismissively at Vee) They’re not worth it. (There is anger in his voice and he points an accusing finger at Vee.) Those a-holes take their frustration out on the weak and inexperienced. Half of them are tyrants with an inflated sense of self-importance and a hunger for power over others. In reality, they're nobodies – just couple more slaves. All the hatred a failed nature has they spew out on their offspring, exerting what power they have over the only creatures obliged to obey them. There you have it. (leaps up onto the bench, speaking in a loud and threatening tone) There it is! That's the truth of a mother's love and a father's care.
Vee: Can it really be that bad?
Jay: Hah! Let me tell you a story. My dad was an alcoholic. His wife and kid were such a pain in his fat ass that he was ready to do anything to get rid of us, but he couldn't do it. So he became corrupted, perverted, to the extent his sick fantasy was capable of it, anyway.
Jay: And now look at my Adonis-like appearance! (points to the scars on his face and laughs)
Vee: To be fair, there are people in today's society who understand that problem. You do know there’s a whole system of laws in place to protect children. It’s called the juvenile justice system. One thing they actually do is try to protect the interests and rights of children, protect them from the arbitrary power of their parents.
Jay: (sitting under the tree) I know, I know... but it just ain't enough. The gang tried the best they could, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot. (snickers) The attempt to help them didn't work out, but... it does prevent certain violent acts the little guys’ “owners” might have committed. But then taking kids and shoving them into exactly the same pressure cooker, only in foster families – what a brilliant solution! (laughs) it's the double whammy, psychological trauma squared. You get used to one state of affairs, resign yourself to it, and then suddenly – bang... (pause) and your whole map is redrawn. Everything’s different and now you have to adapt yourself to a new set of tyrants!
Jay: Umm... (looks at Vee with a broad smile) But... damn... it is the right approach! (settles into a more comfortable pose)
Vee: (putting his hand to his lips and speaking in a calm, level tone) All right, then. You have persuaded me. Again our conversation has touched upon a highly important topic. The topic of how best to raise our children in a way that lets human society move forward and progress. I’ve only now realized that the children are the key to the creation of a new society, the key to human evolution. Yes, that's it – you reap what you sow!
Jay: (in a soft voice, serene, smiling, hands spread, as if he were a priest) You have but to ask. Master Jay is here to show every lost soul the way! (falls about laughing)
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