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Author Topic: But What of the Children?  (Read 2262 times)

HeartShadow

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But What of the Children?
« on: February 27, 2013, 02:07:57 pm »
One of the greatest fears people have is that of someone hurting children.  Our children, someone else's children, it doesn't matter.  We worry about children.

The problem is, this is a lever that goes past our usual ability to think.  It hits our roots, our greatest fears.  The thought of ourselves as children being hurt, or children we know being hurt, being confused and unable to help themselves, goes straight to our emotional core.  Children are our personal past and our collective future.

But “What of the children?” has nothing to do with actual children.  It has to do with cultural beliefs about children, about delicate innocence that needs to be protected and wrapped in soft cloth.  Actual children are not wanted in the conversation.  “What of the children?” is about the concept, not about the reality.

“What about the children?”  What if they learn people are different?  That various people have issues of different kinds, or come in different colors, or different sexualities, or a million other things.  What if they learn that the world is not a safe place for the illusion of innocence?  What if they're not protected from dangers, real and imaginary, by any means necessary?  What then?

The real children, the ones that actually exist, do not benefit from this attitude.  “What of the children?” does not protect real people from real problems.  It protects adults from the perception of problems.  It gives adults an excuse to hang bigotry and profit on.  Not long ago there was a scare about unsafe children's toys.  The way the law worked out, small businesses that were already making safe toys lost out to the big corporations that were the problem in the first place.  “What of the children?” didn't protect children.  It protected money.

“What of the children?” is a phrase with an agenda.  It exists to protect not children but adults, not innocence but guilt, bigotry, and fear.  We buy into it and repeat it because it hits us at gut-level.  It skips past rational thought and attacks us at the most primeval level.  But it's not about the children.  It's “what about me?”

Prompt: Where is the phrase “What of the children?” used in your life?  What's the goal behind it?

Jack

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2013, 02:59:52 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;98717
Prompt: Where is the phrase “What of the children?” used in your life?  What's the goal behind it?

 
Right now it's primarily used against me, and I have a kneejerk reaction to it that's pretty unhelpful to rational discourse. XD

As I think about impending parenthood, though, I find myself understanding the desire to wrap kids up in cotton and never let them go. I won't do it, but I can at least understand it better than I did before I started thinking about moving to Bolivia.
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rocquelaire

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But What of the Children?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2013, 03:12:14 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;98717
Prompt: Where is the phrase “What of the children?” used in your life?  What's the goal behind it?

I've only experienced this at a very personal level. Not "think of the (hypothetical) children" but "what example are you setting for your daughter". I've heard that in relation to my piercings and ratios, as a criticism because I work full time, because I'm a manager and therefore sometimes have to work longer hours etc.

My usual answer is that I am thinking of her. First and foremost in everything. These comments I believe are not anything to do with my daughter's welfare and everything to do with the prejudices of the person making the comments.

I'm not sure if that's really what you were looking for though
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HeartShadow

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2013, 03:32:06 pm »
Quote from: rocquelaire;98730
I've only experienced this at a very personal level. Not "think of the (hypothetical) children" but "what example are you setting for your daughter". I've heard that in relation to my piercings and ratios, as a criticism because I work full time, because I'm a manager and therefore sometimes have to work longer hours etc.

My usual answer is that I am thinking of her. First and foremost in everything. These comments I believe are not anything to do with my daughter's welfare and everything to do with the prejudices of the person making the comments.

I'm not sure if that's really what you were looking for though

 
No, exactly that!  It's about the hypothetical child, and not the real person that you're actually raising!

Also, what jerks to go around moralizing at you like that.  ick.

sailor

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2013, 01:12:23 am »
Quote from: Jack;98729
Right now it's primarily used against me, and I have a kneejerk reaction to it that's pretty unhelpful to rational discourse. XD

As I think about impending parenthood, though, I find myself understanding the desire to wrap kids up in cotton and never let them go. I won't do it, but I can at least understand it better than I did before I started thinking about moving to Bolivia.

 
To paraphrase a related meme, it's not about the children, it's about the control.  More control over people "for the good of the children".  It's been an issue since at least Kipling's time.

veggiewolf

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2013, 09:28:02 am »
Quote from: HeartShadow;98717
...
Prompt: Where is the phrase “What of the children?” used in your life?  What's the goal behind it?

 
Honestly, the only time I think the phrase is applicable is when direct harm (i.e. abuse) of children comes up.  Otherwise, I see it as a way to push someone's moral agenda.
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sailor

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2013, 07:03:52 am »
Quote from: veggiewolf;98879
Honestly, the only time I think the phrase is applicable is when direct harm (i.e. abuse) of children comes up.  Otherwise, I see it as a way to push someone's moral agenda.

 
I'd say political agenda, where that Can include people pushing things via political means / legal system to enact their moral standards. What is pushed is not all moral issues.

veggiewolf

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2013, 09:38:07 am »
Quote from: sailor;99045
I'd say political agenda, where that Can include people pushing things via political means / legal system to enact their moral standards. What is pushed is not all moral issues.

 
I'd agree with that.
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MadZealot

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2013, 12:21:42 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;98717
Prompt: Where is the phrase “What of the children?” used in your life?  What's the goal behind it?

In my own life it means taking care of my 3 wee ones, keeping them safe from harm, and (hopefully) teaching them to be good people.  

Otherwise I'm pretty cynical about the phrase, because 'The Children!' are pretty much relegated to agenda-driven photo-ops.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2013, 12:23:40 pm by MadZealot »
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Fireof9

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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2013, 10:37:51 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;98717

Prompt: Where is the phrase “What of the children?” used in your life?  What's the goal behind it?

 
In my life it is very simple. Its a question that my wife and I ask in determining what is best for our children. What is the best educational tool for them, what is the best way to teach them about an issue, are they ready to learn about that issue, what is the healthiest food for them, how much treats are not too much..... etc. etc.

But really unless it is a case where a child is being abused, it does not really go past our own kids. There are plenty of things I have heard of over the years that other parents have done that I did not agree with, but how people choose to raise their kids is really none of my business. As long as those kids know that they are loved and that they are safe, I am no-ones judge.
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Re: But What of the Children?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2013, 08:31:02 am »
Quote from: sailor;99045
I'd say political agenda, where that Can include people pushing things via political means / legal system to enact their moral standards. What is pushed is not all moral issues.

I think Peter has pegged it. Public cries of "But what about the children" are almost always made by some with a agenda to push in the political arena. They have some lasw or regulation they want and they know if they can somehow connect it to protecting children it will get (often vocal) support from people who hear "protect children" and don't think through the actual situation.
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