As time passes, every culture exhibits stages of maturity – a defined lifecycle. As times change and the old are replaced by the young, a culture progresses and mores and attitudes change as the members and their perspectives change. The maturity level of a given culture is often expressed by the maturity level of the younger demographic as it prepares to assume control of the culture.
The Greatest Generation enjoyed unparalleled prosperity in the post WWII years. This prosperity provided the opportunity to extend childhood through leisure opportunities afforded by that prosperity. Parents of this generation wanted better for their children, striving to create an easier life for the Baby Boomer kiddies, and as a result the Boomers grew up in an environment where they had and did more as they received the benefits of their parents’ success.
Protected from the harshness their parents knew, Boomer children grew up in far less demanding circumstances; however, their resulting training as adults was incomplete. Where their parents worked as children to assist in family survival, Boomers worked after school jobs to pay for comic books or to buy things they wanted. Reaching adulthood, Boomers also sought to “make things better” for their kids to the point that they (and the culture they built) began to frown on children holding even a part-time job (even making it illegal in some circumstances), substituting “enrichment”, sports or sloth for the lessons a job would teach their children.
Immature themselves, “modern” parents sought help from pop psychology to fill the gaps for lessons unlearned. They were trapped into rearing their children under two contradicting propositions – treating them as friends and adults while extending their childhood by providing a want and consequence free adolescence. It is no surprise that treating children as mature adults without teaching them how to be was a losing proposition. Three generations removed from the Greatest Generation, children are now treated as adults without ever having been trained for adulthood.
In Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant, a leading Enlightenment philosopher, spoke of this, terming it “nonage”:
“Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one’s own mind without another’s guidance…”
Children are intuitively aware of pecking order. Programmed by nature and nurture to know when Mommy doesn’t give in, they go to Daddy (or the reverse). When parents are incapable of resolving the hurt feelings of a child, they will turn to any source of authority willing to pay attention to them. American society is currently witnessing the temper tantrums of people who are adults in a chronological sense and children in emotional and rational terms seeking an approving authority.
“Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain minors all their lives, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor. If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on–then I have no need to exert myself. I have no need to think, if only I can pay; others will take care of that disagreeable business for me.”
In America, a generation of ill-trained, immature twentysomethings is assuming their place in the culture. As they do, our culture is predictably displaying immaturity with so-called “adults” expressing their hurt feelings as “rape culture”, trigger warnings, micro-aggressions, and perception of offense to every word and phrase. Mommy and Daddy didn’t give the desired responses so they are looking to any authority willing to listen. As members of the Nonage Generation reject ineffective human parents, they turn to a progressive government that is willing to pat them on the head, soothe their hurt feelings, and tell them they are special and everything is going to be just fine even as it takes away their freedom in exchange.
This will not end well.