Children bicker and fight without thought to consequence.  Presumably adults intervene in their squabbles and endeavor to teach them tolerance and responsibility.  As any parent or teacher knows, it’s a lesson that has to be constantly reinforced because selfish impulses are strong and don’t easily yield to new habits.

Yet adults persevere because it is their duty to apprentice the young.  Without learned self-control, the world would be overrun with the violently impulsive, making cooperation a very difficult thing.

Even after years of patient tutoring, a child might reject curbing and dream of escape.  When I’m 18, I’m going to do what I want!  He sees his apprenticeship as limitation, the lessons as frustration and his custodians as wardens.  He doesn’t yet realize how fragile our lives are, how dependent we are upon each other and the earth.

Not many people had the good fortune to be reared by perfect parents.  Maybe lessons were heavy-handed and delivered thoughtlessly, but that does not change the outcome.  Grabbing the cookie jar and keeping it all to one’s self is kids’ stuff, not that of grown men and women who know better.

Juvenile behavior is almost expected from those adults who fared poorly in childhood.  Lack of education, role models and privilege are usually blamed for subsequent inability to live peaceably.  Their numbers may be large, but their crimes relatively petty compared to those who have had every advantage.  What excuse have they?

They have none.  They were not obliged by want, discrimination or ignorance to bend the rules.  They bend them because it suits them.  And because no warden, real or imagined, will make them answer for their actions. 

Essentially they remain children, fighting over weapons and resources just as toys and candy, oblivious to consequence and angry when thwarted.   The question is, do we suffer them gladly or stand together against them?   A neighborhood bully is difficult enough to manage, but what about civil and economic ones?  Governments that are run by zealots or sellouts?  Giant multinationals?  Are they above the laws of society and free to behave like preschoolers running amok?

If you cannot trust a toddler with the cookie jar, it’s no safer in the hands of an older toddler.  Once the jar is broken, he will expect YOU to clean up the mess.


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