I saw my good friend Mike the other day. He asked why I hadn’t published a column recently. I published two columns back-to-back on July 30 and July 31, so Mike is either right or wrong, depending on your definition of the word recently. I suppose I publish when a subject refuses to be dismissed. When I can’t get it out of my head, I perform an exorcism by putting it to paper. Mike and I had a very short discussion about the bitterness and hostility of political discourse today and we both mourned the loss of civility in those debates. So you see how these columns happen? Mike brought up something that I couldn’t dismiss.
I would describe Mike as liberal. I’m pretty sure he would describe me as conservative. We’ve had political discussions since we’ve known each other and not once have we resorted to fisticuffs or ad hominem attacks. I disagree with a lot of his socio-political opinions, yet I admire and respect him as a human being. He is a very human being, and he makes my world a better place.
Occasionally, I have a “guest writer” in this space. So maybe it’s time for me to state my opinion on a subject, then let Mike have his say. I suspect he’ll find the subject interesting.
We all want to protect our children. We all want them to grow to happy, healthy adulthood. Yet the conservative and liberal approaches to this goal are quite different. Bullying is a good example. The liberal slant seems to be an attempt to eradicate the bullies. Don’t know about you, but my sense of things is that bullies were around long before I got here and will be here long after I’m gone. My parents taught me how to deal with bullies, and fifty years later, I’m still good with their approach.
In this day and age, our children grow up and attend colleges and universities. The Wizard of Oz claims they go there to become great thinkers. But today, in this society with First Amendment rights to free speech, our institutions of higher learning provide “safe spaces” where our children are protected against words and ideas that may be uncomfortable. That sort of thinking seems to fly in the face of the traditional liberal position. That sounds like “free speech for me, but not thee.” It must be difficult to stimulate great thinking in a “safe space” where one would never experience an opposing view. Seems to me there wouldn’t be much to think about in there.
So the larger issue is this: We all want our children to be safe and healthy, but what is the best method of doing that? We often vaccinate our children against diseases. The principle involved is pretty straightforward: We put a small, weakened version of the dreaded disease inside them, and their bodies develop antibodies to kill it. Those antibodies hang around in there, making them less vulnerable to the real thing.
So, if we admit there is evil in the world, shouldn’t we prepare our children for evil by making sure they know it’s out there? Is that not wiser than rolling them in bubble wrap and kicking them out into a world we’ve told them is all goodness and light? Wouldn’t it be wise to innoculate them?
Mike, it’s your turn. I promise to publish it. How about my inoculation theory? Give it your best shot!