Monday, August 28, 2006

The getting of wisdom

I've had the chance now to observe friends and family mature and settle into their adult lives of work and family. Gradually people figure out what's important and what's needed to make relationships work and how to deal with their own shortcomings.

So it certainly is possible for individuals to learn from their experiences and to get the basic things right.

The problem is ... it takes too long. I know a lot of people who finally reached their completed adult selves in their mid-30s, by which time their best chance to successfully partner and have children has often passed.

I was reminded of this when I read the following passage by American traditionalist Lawrence Auster:

The notion that man’s unaided reason is sufficient to form a good way of life and a good society is, of course, a defining belief of liberalism. By contrast, conservatives, starting with Burke, believe that one person or a group of persons do not know enough, that people cannot start from scratch in each generation and build a decent society, and therefore society depends to a great extent on the wisdom and experience of the past transmitted to the present via culture, laws, moral habits and traditions, religious teachings, accumulated know-how, and so on.

It is precisely a lesson of my generation that you can't expect every individual to start from scratch in acquiring knowledge. The kinds of lessons learnt by each generation need to be passed down as a kind of "short-cut" for the rising generation.

Of course this can be done directly through parents, but it helps too if the culture you inherit guides you to make wise decisions when young which your own experience later confirms.

And this cultural support my own generation did not have. The messages we received were derived more from political dictates than from traditional culture.

And so we had to battle through the confusion of being taught that there were no significant differences between men and women; that gender role reversal was the moral path; that it was liberating for women to act like "ladettes"; that the family was an oppressive patriarchal institution; that motherhood was demeaning to women; that men were collectively responsible for domestic violence; that the male provider role was oppressive to women; and that the Western tradition in general was privileged and prejudiced and to be considered in terms of guilt and apology.

We inhabited a kind of anti-culture, an imposed politics which acted rather as a hindrance to knowledge and development than as a vessel to pass on an accumulated wisdom.

I hope that my generation won't repeat the same mistake and that we will try to endow our own children with a supportive culture.

PS Take a look too at this item by Lawrence Auster on Angelina Jolie.

1 comment:

  1. Nice comment Bobby. I'm glad you targeted the limited range of "popular" role models for girls. I think you're right that both the Paris Hilton and Pink options are trapped within a materialism, in the sense that they don't recognise a higher value outside our physical or egoistic wants which might guide our behaviour and principles.