The persons we help them become

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Curiosity at work

Someone on Facebook posted an article from Forbes about how parental behaviour can prevent our children to become “the leaders they have the potential to be.” And while I do understand the idea of some (only some!) of the points the article makes, the fundamental message actually makes me angry and sick.

WHY ON EARTH would I want my child to be a “leader”? The problem that lies behind this whole article is the thought that a person is only worthy if they’re successful. Successful means successful in a job, it means to be a leader, not some “low-working underling”, it means someone making money. This concept of worth and self-definition through your success on the job market and through the numbers in your bank account is deeply imbued in our society but it is so very toxic. Because you can only fail. There is always someone richer, more successful, more able than you. And if you’re a person whose skills lie in something that is not deemed productive and useful by society, like art, design, music, writing or basically anything creative, the odds of becoming rich (and successful) are so low, it’s staggering. (A bitter fact that both my husband and I have to experience on a daily basis.) If you’re not very lucky, extraordinarily talented or willing to work in morally ambiguous areas like e.g. advertising, the likelihood of earning more money than what suffices to sustain you is barely there.

In our society, people are forced to do things they hate just to be able to live something resembling a good life without gaining debts over debts. The reasons for this are so stretched and many that I won’t go into them, there are articles by people more knowledgeable than I all over the net.

Fact: I hate the job market and what capitalism made of our society.

But even more, I hate the idea of raising our children solely for this job market. Any concept of how to support our children should come from the idea of helping our children become curious, healthy, whole, (com)passionate and happy people who are who they want to be, not from the idea of making them “suitable” for a questionable job market, or worse, “successful”. Happiness lies not in a socially accepted job or a full bank account but in the people around you and in living a life you love without harming others. It lies in curiosity, awareness and laughter, in diversity and love. Not in some job description. That’s something I want to give to my children.

I won’t “coach” my children, I will love them and care for them. I will nurture their creativity and their respect for themselves and others. IF they at one point in their life end up as “leaders” (and then hopefully not the kind of leader you see at the top of most companies these days) it will not be because I “trained” them to be one or coaxed them in a direction I or society deemed good but because they wanted to be one in a field they love. And if they do not become leaders they will not be worthless or even only “less worthy”. And they will know it.

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3 thoughts on “The persons we help them become

  1. I fear that a great many individuals do not understand leadership, they equate leaders with modern society’s symbols of success. Such leadership is only a small portion of the population. Every day we can see leaders at work many quiet ways. People become and exhibit leadership in their individual sense of confidence and their individual competence in living and working. Just because one is appointed to a role in managing a group of workers does not mean such an individual is a leader. I’ve had to work for many such individuals and they exhibit little leadership ability. One sees leadership in a work group or a community setting when other individuals seek out the same person for advice and council. That is a quiet style of leadership and a very good one at that.

    As for capitalism, well, it hasn’t been working very well as of late. and the free market hasn’t been free for decades. If there is one area of gross ignorance in the world it is on capitalism and free markets. Most individuals haven’t the foggiest notion of those two terms. Yet if one saves money in a back account instead of immediately spending it and then uses that money later in a productive manner then one is a capitalist, unwilling or not. Capitalism works best when there is little reliance on debt and cheap money, when savings becomes the seeds for investment. Currently the world’s economies are greatly awash in debt, debt that cannot be repaid.

    When governments intrude upon the workings of the free market they skew the ability of the free market to supply goods and services in the manner that it should. The simple act of declaring that all goods and services cannot be sold and bought on a Sunday is interfering with the free market. Sometimes that is a collective social decision, sometimes it is strictly a top down political decision. If an individual decides not to buy and sell on a Sunday then that is an individual decision and has little effect upon a free market. The more taxes and regulations government institutions place upon the market, the less free it becomes. Funny thing is that the more we interfere with the free market the more we try to cheat, bend the rules, and otherwise circumvent those very rules and taxes.

    What the article tried to describe were many of the problems with modern society. We make it illegal for a child to walk several blocks to school by himself but we bring all the world’s horrors and filth into our homes with electronic devices that corrupt childhood. When I was a child in the fifties I could roam the neighborhood on foot or my bicycle and sometimes cover miles alone or in the company of my friends. If I were that same child today my parents would be brought up on charges of child abuse. We played softball in the school yard and no teacher ever dared to interfere with our game. Today one cannot toss a ball in a school yard for “safety” reasons. I’ve watched children just stand around during their recess waiting to go back and sit down at their desks. My time as a child was never micro managed with a flurry of busy activities to keep me “out of harm’s way”. We could explore the world of nature without an adult to tell us when, where, and how to do it. We were allowed to be bored. Boredom creates an opportunity to solve that problem by doing something. We have allowed our governments to crush our own lives with interventions that are needless and beyond stupid. Our governments have become “Nanny States” ready to control all aspects of our lives and encourage us to do the same to our children. Socialism is the road to serfdom, it always has been and will continue that way. Europe has never learned that lesson and America is slipping into that same abyss. Within the next two years the world will be in a very great depression, greater than it has ever experienced before. China will start first, their implosion is happening now. Then like dominoes, other countries will fall. Brazil is on the edge right now and there is nothing they can do to stop that free fall.

    You have good reason to fear the social and political forces that affect you and your family. The one thing you can do is to teach your children good moral principles. Teach them to reject the siren call from the “free stuff army” that socialism encourages and feeds. The old USSR lasted a mere seventy years and killed off 30 to 40 million of its people (not including the losses during WWII) trying to make a centrally planned economy work. Capitalism is a good policy when allowed to work correctly. It’s not a perfect economic system but there is not better. I wish you well.

    • Thank you for your comment and your thoughts! I totally agree with you on the point that “leadership” does not have to mean leading in a workplace environment but I think it’s safe to assume that this is exactly what the article and most people mean.
      However: the alternative to capitalism is NOT socialism but I think you grossly underestimate the “serfdom” that capitalism induces. It’s not called that but what capitalism does to the majority of people is nothing else. And how could it? Capitalism has never been about humanity, it has always been about money. There are very few who can profit from capitalism and that basically only by using and exploiting others.

      Thanks again for your comment 🙂

      • All economic systems are concerned with who gets what when, where, and how. A barter system is an economic system but its drawback is that it can only support a few hundred people at most with only a small number of goods and services to offer. And it is strictly a buyer beware economy. A small number of individuals tend to restrict the amount of dishonesty in general. A centrally planned economy dictates who gets what, where, when, and how. It is only as honest as those at the top who direct the distribution of a limited selection of goods and services. One brand of toothpaste, one kind of comb, the size and location of your apartment, the job you may pursue and how much you will earn. If you are a member of such a society, you are pretty much a serf. Your freedoms are relative to your need to simply work and live.

        At the other end of the spectrum is capitalism which depends on a free market to distribute goods and services. The problem today is that government has made such a mess of interfering with that free market, and most of its efforts have only caused harm, that the market works not for the good of society but for the good of the few. Capitalism has never made serfs, slaves, bondmen, or any other such unfree people. It’s the governments who do that. and we tend to elect individuals to public office to fight for our interests, many of which restrict the market and many of which are not in the best interests of society as a whole. Socialism is simply a variation of capitalism and tries to control aspects of the market for special interests. those interests may be the lower stratum of the population, it may be a middle class. But the point is simple. the more one interferes with the market the less free people become because such interference leaves people with fewer choices, and I’m not talking about the number of different bakers selling sliced bread.

        You did a remodel of your kitchen. Imagine how your choices in remodeling would have been affected your plans if you were required to hire only union labor and buy products that were only made by union labor. And what if you were required to pay the inspectors directly? What the local government decided what tiles you could use, how many, and what color?

        My point is that capitalism and free markets are anything but perfect, yet to interfere with their operations is to make their imperfections even worse. Yes, we need to have a modicum of consumer protection, but a nanny state is far more protection than we can possible use. Our governments do not like to see businesses fail if such businesses are employers of more than a certain size of the population. We allow our governments to encourage the mergers and other acquisitions for the concentration of economic wealth and power that affects us badly. then we blame it capitalism.

        Our societies have come to expect something for nothing from our politicians and they have delivered all manner of welfare, but individual and corporate. That is not the capitalist spirit. That is our own greed and stupidity.

        Now people like you and me decry the system and the gaming that goes on. I have been on this earth for 68 years and our various political systems have gotten worse. I have watched as each new generation gets distracted by the new toys and fails to learn what they need in order to see that government works at least half the time. I am disgusted by the amount of ignorance in my own country. And I see the trend towards the belief that big government not only can fix all the problems but that it knows best. That scares the hell out of me. As for Europe, it has failed to learn from the two past great wars.

        I fear we are entering another period like that from 1820 to 1880, where social revolt was in the air. The history of that period is very interesting. Those who ignored social reforms found 1848 a difficult time. Those who bought off the working class, as Bismark did, kept the peace. But the interference into each country’s economy made for secret agreements and double dealing until 1916. And then in 1921 europe screwed it all up again. and here we are, working real hard to do it all over. Well, that’s what I see. We confuse economic systems for political problems and such problems cause grave economic problems, not the other way round. If we can reform government that the economic situations will take care of themselves. If we don’t, then no amount of preaching against capitalism will make any difference.

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