Monday, August 22, 2005

I Am Too A Grown-Up!

From Mark Steyn’s column in the Chicago Sun-Times of August 21, 2005:

They're not children in Iraq; they're grown-ups who made their own decision to join the military. That seems to be difficult for the left to grasp. Ever since America's all-adult, all-volunteer army went into Iraq, the anti-war crowd have made a sustained effort to characterize them as "children." If a 13-year-old wants to have an abortion, that's her decision and her parents shouldn't get a look-in. If a 21-year-old wants to drop to the broadloom in Bill Clinton's Oval Office, she's a grown woman and free to do what she wants. But, if a 22- or 25- or 37-year-old is serving his country overseas, he's a wee "child" who isn't really old enough to know what he's doing.

Yep. That’s about the way I see it, too.

Until the early 1970's, "legal age" was 21. That's when a person was deemed old enough to drink, old enough to vote, old enough to sign a contract, old enough to marry without parental consent (for men--women could marry without parental consent at 18). However, the draft included men from 18 through 21. The argument was made that if you were old enough to die for your country, you were old enough to vote. And, I admit, there is a certain logic to that argument. I was one of the beneficiaries of the change in the law--I voted in my first Presidential election in 1972. So, now, 18 is old enough to vote, but not to choose to defend that right?

But the Left's creeping "nannyism" isn't limited to just the military. That outlook permeates their philosophy: after the 2004 election, the Left dismissed all the voters in "flyover country." Ted Rall wrote a particularly scathing article, stating that he grew up with these folks and they were all small-minded, uncouth bores, and he is well shut of them. He never goes back to visit and he doesn't miss them. (Somehow, I think that might run both ways.) An acquaintance of mine said of the voters in the rural community where she owns a cabin, "They vote against their own self-interests." Of course, the voters only live there; she "spends time."

Experts know what is best for children, for the economy, for world peace. There are rules and regulations governing the space between crib slats, air bags, warning labels, who has to wear a helmet and when. Some of these make good sense. Car seats are safer for infants and squirming toddlers, especially when I was driving. If my cell phone rings while I'm driving, I usually let one of the kids or Voice Mail pick it up.

But, requiring that I do (or not do) these things denies my responsibility as an adult for my own actions. I don't get to practice common-sense decision-making, which means when a crisis happens, I am much less likely to know how to respond. And it forces a Catch-22 situation: either law enforcement resources are spent enforcing all these petty laws or I am encouraged to flaunt the law and not take it seriously.

Perhaps the reason the level of discourse devolves so quickly into juvenile rants and name-calling is because we have fewer and fewer opportunities to behave like adults: to make decisions and deal with the consequences. Perhaps it is the Left who wishes to establish an oligarchy, to return to feudalism where the few determine the welfare of the majority.

No. I have worked too long and too hard to get to the point where I can make my own decisions about my life to relinquish that freedom willingly. As for my children... Hubs and I know them pretty well by now. The younger two we are guiding towards adulthood, teaching them useful tools, encouraging them to keep their options open, fighting so they get the tools they need to fully use the talents God has given them.

The older two are learning that adult decisions carry serious consequences. To deny them the opportunity to make those decisions or to experience and learn from those consequences is to deny them their humanity, their personhood. But unless we do, they will not learn, they will not grow. I do not want my children to become stunted adults any more than I want to have my learning, my growth stunted by some well-meaning oligarch.