Why do we hate children?

Or, why do other cultures not hate children?

It seems like Americans in the Current Year are staunchly opposed to having children.

  • We are opposed to getting married early (which is necessary to have lots of legitimate children).
  • We are opposed to having children before attaining “financial security,” (which delays children).
  • We are strongly in favor of pornography (which blunts the desire for sex, which lowers the odds of producing children).
  • We are strongly in favor of using contraception (which prevents children).
  • We are in favor of abortion (which kills existing children).

Do I need to continue? No? I will anyway.

  • We are strongly in favor of spending enormous amounts of money on those children we do have (which lowers the incentive to have more children, since money is not infinite).
  • We legally require parents to be responsible for their children well past the age of maturity (which lowers the incentive to have children).
  • We are strongly in favor of personal entertainment, travel, and career success (which all are more difficult with children around, thus lowering the incentive to have children).
  • We are strongly opposed to children doing productive things, like jobs, or real education, or chores (which lowers the incentive to have children).
  • We are strongly opposed to female submission to men (which reduces women’s attractiveness, and reduces their attraction to men, which reduces sex occurrence, which reduces children).
  • We are strongly opposed to allowing children to roam (which requires more parental energy per child, which lowers the incentive to have children).
  • We no longer expect our children to care for us in our old age, but rather expect our retirement accounts to do it (which reduces the need for children).

This is a lot of values we hold, which conflict with or inhibit our ability to have children. Where did these desires come from? How could these desires be socially adaptive in any Darwinian sense? How can our society grow, or even survive if we are so adamantly anti-children? Are not children the future of any coherent, continuous society?

It’s easy to answer to why we hate children. “We have abandoned tradition.” “We depend on technology instead of humans.” “We are dealing with technology like contraception that we did not evolve for.” All these are true, as far as they go. However, the overriding cause, and most fundamental problem to the whole of society is our abandonment of Catholic Christianity as the motivating force of society.

But I fear that even a revival of Catholicism would not save us. We cannot rewind time and magically replace all the kids we skipped out on having for the last few decades.

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Modernity and Tradition

Try to express any sort of admiration at all for traditional culture, particularly for the culture of Christendom. See how far you get. See how long before you are interrupted with a “yeah, but toilet paper and plumbing are nice,” or some platitude about “modern medicine.” (Never mind that Christendom created modern science and technology.) Nearly every single person living in the modern West sees the world today as a uniformly better world than the world of the past. They literally cannot understand why anyone would want a return to the things of old. Their faces glaze over, and their phones come out. Moderns almost physically cannot hear praise of the past in conjunction with criticism of the present. Why?

No one today denies that there are problems in the world. So why shouldn’t we be able to look to the past for cures to our modern ailments? The answer is simple: Moderns see the past as the ailment, and only progress can be the cure. Looking to the past for a cure is like looking to smoking as the cure for lung cancer. In this frame of chronological snobbery, it is truly ridiculous to express admiration for the past, and no such sentiment can be taken seriously.

But is this view of the world true? No. There are a great many ills of the present that did not exist in the past. There are a great many things we have lost in order to gain what little we have. As the Son of Man said:

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?

But that is essentially what modern civilization has done. We have achieved the greatest material comfort and security ever in all of history, and all it cost our civilization was its soul. Its purpose. We earned money at the expense of meaning. We have gained everything for the low, low price of eternity.

This should be obvious, but apparently it is not. No one today seems to realize that we have lost anything. Sure, there is a pervading air of nihilism and existential terror, but we assume that this is just part of being human, and that this problem is best dealt with by ignorance. Or, more accurately by distraction. We salve the cry of our souls with silly distractions. “What is the meaning of life?” our subconscious asks. “Shh, it doesn’t matter. Watch this cool movie though,” we answer.

Moderns see their society as the pinnacle of human achievement by changing the criteria for achievement to tilt in their favor. If you use the measuring stick of modernity, yes, we are the most modern. But are we the best? They cannot understand this question. To a modern, “best” just means richest or safest or freest. To the men of the past, “best” meant something very different. Thus these men were not the richest or safest or freest. But these men were better. Or at least capable of being better, because they knew of a “best” to strive for. We, have only our toys to amuse; they had tools to achieve.

This problem is, as the PUAs say, one of frame. Modernity frames reality as physical only. It lets the social and the spiritual rot, and then claims victory because it has the most toys. He who dies with the most toys does not actually win, though. The real frame is God. Any society without the vision of the Transcendent Logos at its heart is a society built on straw.

Beware the wolf who comes a’blowing.

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Duty and Meaning

The underlying attitude of modern American culture is “You can’t tell me what to do,” or in it’s more punk rock formulation: “F*ck you, Dad.” Petulant? Yes. Self-indulgent? Certainly. But the important question is, does it make us happy? Does the mentality of “I do what I want” really bring lasting satisfaction? No. This attitude shirks duty in favor of radical individual freedom. But the price of this freedom is a pervasive lack of meaning.

Emptiness characterizes the state of our souls. We have internalized the message that no one can, or should, tell us what to do. As a result, we have been forced to decide for ourselves what is good, what is true, and what is beautiful. The optimistic thinkers of earlier ages envisioned this cultural revolution as one that would result in utopia. How could freedom be bad? Well, as a child of the age of freedom, I can assure you that it can be very bad indeed. By destroying the organic social duties of family, church, and state, we are left with a soulless void. We may have iPhones and tasty food, but it is all the worse, for we cannot enjoy even those things as anything other than momentary distractions from the ennui of our souls. By letting each of us decide for ourselves what is good, we as a culture have decided that nothing is really good. I cannot think of a society more confused as to what “the good life” really is. I cannot think of a society more unable to comprehend the truth. I cannot think of a society more enamored of ugliness. (Have you seen modern art?) The good, true, and beautiful things of this world have been shunted aside as each man vainly pursues his own whims.

Duty is what we lack. By taking on responsibility, we become more responsible. By taking on duties, we give up our freedom, but we find meaning. What is the most meaningful thing your parents did? Probably to have and raise you. But, every parent knows that children are a huge restriction on freedom. This is the trade off. Meaning and Duty, or Freedom and Emptiness. In more sane ages, people recognized the duties they were born into, and worked to live up to those obligations. In our insane age, we deny that we can be born into any obligations, and fritter away our lives on meaningless work or empty leisure.

What am I to do? What meaning can be found in a world that has lost its meaning? Search for duties to take up. To quote Jordan Peterson, “start with cleaning up your room.” Even if you live alone, you have a duty to respect yourself, and to respect your living space. But there are duties everywhere to be found for the one willing (and able) to shoulder them. Your church always needs volunteers for something. You are born with an obligation to your parents, so why not call them? Your friend needs help moving. If you are dating, work towards marriage, do not be content with coasting. Take on responsibility at work. Do something. For, in meeting the obligations others have set on you, in living up to the standards of your community, a modicum of meaning can be found.

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Look at me

 

Look at me
Look at me
Driving and I won’t stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top

Narcissism is widespread in this modern society of ours. These lyrics capture what all good little members of modernity desire to become: rich and famous. Not only do we desire to be successful, more importantly than that, we all desire for others to know us as successful. This is best demonstrated in the Kardashians or Hiltons of the world who are famous for being famous.

Who is even surprised by the dominance of this ideal? Given our highly materialistic metaphysics, nothing is more natural than our unnatural concern with the natural, material world. If this life is all there is, it makes sense to make it the most personally pleasurable life possible, and there is little more pleasurable than to be a milti-millionaire admired by millions.

The deep-seated need for attention our society has is evident in the technologies we use. Twitter is a platform almost entirely for showing off how witty you are. Facebook is for showing off how great your life is. Instagram is for literally showing off your own body, or the food you eat. How many hours each day are devoted to self-aggrandizement?

The “good” companies nowadays are the ones which generate media attention, not necessarily profits.

But attention-seeking, like all forms of hedonism, fails in the end.

This life is not all there is. Rather, this life is a prelude to eternity. Success in this life ought to be measured by the quality of the next, not by your follower count on Twitter, or by the number in your bank account.


Ironically, the focus on gaining attention for oneself, has tended to go hand in hand with a decrease in one’s own attention span. Reading tweets may make you a better tweeter, but it will not make you a better thinker.

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Money and Wisdom

I spent all my adult life focused on one goal. Money. I thought about how to get it, how to get more of it, how to spend less of it. I tried to learn everything I could about every way to become rich. I strived to spend ever more of my time building things to earn me money. I wanted nothing more or less than to be the richest human. Money was a score card to me, in this great game of Life. I always play games with intent to win. If I don’t think I can win, I don’t play. Money and ever more money was my goal.

Why? What is in this idol to give me such drive? What is money for? For the satisfaction of desire. Pure unadulterated Will. Money is the power to do as you please, and there was much I pleased to do. I wanted to do great things with this money. I wanted to do silly things with this money. But mostly, I just wanted to make my name known, to feed the furnace of Pride that rages still within me.

And then I read an article. Not even really an article about money at all.

It may not seem an effective way to make things happen, but taking obvious public success as the standard means aligning ourselves with the principles on which public life is currently based, and that means certain defeat.

This offhand remark from James Kalb, not really meant to be about life’s purpose or motivating goals was, for me, a real encounter with Wisdom. Why should I consider money to be the scorecard for this life? Only because that is the standard “on which public life is currently based.” Our depraved civilization sacrifices it’s children through abortion and immigration so that we may earn for ourselves yet more money. More! As if the richest country in all the history of the universe needs more. In this there is not life, but only death, and “certain defeat.”

I floundered for a week or two.

And in my floundering I read and meditated on the words of the great Christian sages who came before me, Aquinas (by way of Feser), Augustine, and Chesterton. And without even realizing it, I found a new goal. A new purpose. A new mission for my life.

Wisdom.

What use is it to have money, that is, to have the power to do as you wish, when you do not yet know what is worth doing in the first place? Life has objective meaning. It is not created through our mere will. All the money in the world would let me do nearly any thing I wanted, but it would not help in the slightest to know what I should want to do. For we all know that not all of our desires are good, and not all of our desires should be satisfied.

If Money is for doing as you wish, Wisdom is for knowing what to wish. Wisdom is for doing what is right, not merely what you want. Thus, Wisdom pre-empts money. Wisdom is more valuable than money. Wisdom is to be pursued and desired.

But how?

I have only just begun my search, so I cannot give a complete answer. But, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” and I shall start there. God is Wisdom, Truth, Beauty, Being, and Goodness itself. In Him these qualities are transcendental. They are all the same thing. So, to really attain Wisdom just is to really attain God, or perhaps the Beatific Vision of God. To know Wisdom is to know God.

So, what is my goal?

To know God.

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Marrying in the Current Year

As Dalrock has detailed to a ridiculously in-depth level, marriage in the current year has some issues. To help people think about the problem, here are some questions:

  1. What is marriage supposed to be, in the best case?
  2. What, if any, is the difference between this ideal formulation, and the modern American formulation?
    • What prevents the modern formulation of marriage from living up to the ideal?
      • How relevant are:
        • Social setting?
        • Legal setting?
        • Religious setting?
        • Technological advancement?
  3. How does a marriage come about?
    • What prepares young men and women for marriage?
      • What character traits are important?
      • What material situations are important?
    • How do men and women meet nowadays?
      • How is this different from previous generations?
      • Are these differences an improvement, in general? If not, is there a solution, to make the meeting process better?
    • How do men and women decide to get married nowadays?
      • How is this different from previous generations?
      • What are the benefits of the modern process?
      • What are the benefits of the older process?
    • What motivates men to propose marriage to women?
      • Has this motivation changed over time?
  4. What is to be done to improve the situation?

And now, my answers:

  1. The sacrament of Holy Matrimony is supposed to be a permanent, fruitful union between a man and a woman.
  2. Modern marriage is not a sacrament, it is not permanent, it is not (in aggregate) fruitful, and it is no longer limited to a man and a woman.
    • Many things. But an understanding of what marriage is and why it exists in the first place seems to be lacking across the board, and without this understanding, we should not be surprised to see marriage falling apart.
      • Social setting is extremely important to a marriage, as the community surrounding a marriage can help or hurt the marriage. Modern community is nearly non-existent, as Americans are the most isolated humans probably ever to exist. What community we do have tends to be centered around pop-entertainment, which generally tends to erode marriages, rather than build them up.
      • Legally speaking, signing up for marriage is a death trap for the richer party. At any time, for no cause, the marriage can be voided, and the poorer party can receive cash and prizes.
      • America is not a religious nation any more. We might be a vaguely spiritual one, but we do not hold strongly to concrete doctrine, a hallmark of religion. Since religion is strongly tied to the success of marriage, the lack of religion entails a lot of the problems we see.
      • An important part of marriage is the help it provides to each partner. Marriage makes life no longer something to be lived alone, but it gives you someone to lean on when hard times come. Modern technology also makes life easier. You can lean on it when the hard times come. Thus, the material incentives for marriage are lessened whenever some technology lessens our dependence on others, which is practically every technology.
  3. A marriage comes about when a man asks a woman to marry him and she says yes, and then they go before their family and their God and make solemn vows of fidelity and love.
    • Seeing their parent’s example of marriage. Maturing as a competent individual. Social interaction in general, because marriage is a social affair.
      • Truthfulness, responsibility, loyalty.
      • Money/Income, but a lot less is necessary than most Americans think.
    • They largely do not do so anymore, or at least not easily, naturally, or well. The remaining avenues tend to be degraded versions of the old forms (Church, Family, Friends) or new, crappier forms (Work, Internet)
    • Largely through inertia. Very few men strongly desire marriage–most are “suckered into it” by their live-in girlfriends who pester them about it frequently. Most young women do not want it, until they hit the wall (around age 30) and want to have a kid or two.
      • Previous generations placed a much larger emphasis on family as central to the purpose of life, whereas moderns tend to see it as a capstone to achieve only after other goals (career, education) are reached.
      • People have more disposable income to waste on un-necessary diversions like vacations, and vapid entertainment.
      • Larger families, more stable families, more meaningful familial relationships.
    • Widely varies from man to man. Love, Duty, Desire, etc…
      • Yes, it is much more likely to be done at the insistence of the woman now, than it was in the past, but since motivations are so personal, generalizations here are difficult at best.
  4. Good question. Pray, I guess?
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Dominion

These are some collected, unorganized thoughts on a good part of life: Dominion.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Man is a rational animal. His role is dominion. No beast of the earth, whale, dinosaur, or worm is higher or more loved by God. Thus, mastery of this world is good.

All men despise the weak man, the coward. This is because the weak man fails in his first earthly role. It is good to be strong, that we might have dominion over the earth.

Dominion is not destruction. A good father has dominion over his family, but it is only the worst fathers that destroy their families. Man has authority on earth, and with authority comes responsibility. Thus dominion contains within it the idea of stewardship.

Contained within the idea of earthly dominion over the creatures of the earth and the earth herself is the idea that everything has a place, and a purpose. To master this earth is to fill our role, to take our rightful place. Woe to those who rebel against the role God has given.

Knowledge is power. Power is the ability to dominate. Thus the root of Dominion is Knowledge. This is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the wondrous technology of our modern age. We can dominate the skies themselves, flying on mechanical wings, because of our knowledge. Thus, from the first command to dominion results the implied command to wisdom and understanding. Since wisdom and understanding come from God, who is Truth Itself, it is clear that the command to Dominion rightly understood is a command to know and love God.

Dominion is good, but God is Goodness Itself.

 

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