It's important to understand that it isn't Congress that must change -- it is us.
The Invisible Committee:
The family is no longer so much the suffocation of maternal control or the patriarchy of beatings as it is this infantile abandon to a fuzzy dependency, where everything is familiar, this carefree moment in the face of a world that nobody can deny is breaking down, a world where "becoming self-sufficient" is a euphemism for "finding a boss." They want to use the "familiarity" of the biological family as an excuse to undermine anything that burns passionately within us and, under the pretext that they raised us, make us renounce the possibility of growing up, as well as everything that is serious in childhood. We need to guard against such corrosion.
Doris Lessing, from her 1985 Massey Lectures :
Imagine us saying to children:
"In the last fifty or so years, the human race has become aware of a great deal of information about its mechanisms; how it behaves, how it must behave under certain circumstances. If this is to be useful, you must learn to contemplate these roles calmly, dispassionately, disinterestedly, without emotion. It is information that will set people free from blind loyalties, obedience to slogans, rhetoric, leaders, group emotions."
Well, there it is.
What government, anywhere in the world, will happily envisage its subjects learning to free themselves from governmental and state rhetoric and pressures? Passionate loyalty and subjection to group pressure is what every state relies on.
No, I cannot imagine any nation -- or not for long -- teaching its citizens to become individuals able to resist group pressures.
We cannot expect a government to say to children:
"You are going to have to live in a world full of mass movements, both religious and political, mass ideas, mass cultures. Every hour of every day you will be deluged with ideas and opinions that are mass produced, and regurgitated, whose only real vitality comes from the power of the mob, slogans, pattern thinking. You are going to be pressured all through your life to join mass movements, and if you can resist this, you will be, every day, under pressure from various types of groups, often of your closest friends, to conform to them."
"It will seem to you many times in your life that there is no point in holding out against these pressures, that you are not strong enough."
"But you are going to be taught how to examine these mass ideas, these apparently irresistible pressures, taught how to think for yourself, and to choose for yourself."
Well, no, we cannot expect this kind of thing to be in the curriculum laid down by any state or government currently visible in the world. But parents may talk and teach like this ...
When an entirely new and untried political project is sprung upon the people, they are startled, anxious, timid, and for a time they are mute, reserved, noncommittal. The great majority of them are not studying the new doctrine and making up their minds about it, they are waiting to see which is going to be the popular side.
It is desire to be in the swim that makes political parties.
Adults lie constantly to kids. I'm not saying we should stop, but I think we should at least examine which lies we tell and why.
If the children are being instructed in the pink plane, can we teach them to think in the blue plane and live in a pink-plane society?
These talented and energetic young citizens could surely be doing something more useful.
If there is anything instructive in the present turmoil of the world, it is surely that few ideas are as dangerous as the belief that all possible means are permissible in the service of a desirable end.
The short-term needs are the opposite of what is needed in the long term.
Quite a lot of what passes itself off as a dialogue about our society consists of people trying to justify their own choices as the only right or natural ones by denouncing others' as selfish or pathological or wrong.
Only with hindsight can one look back and see that the smartest course may not have been the right one.
The truth is we're lousy at recognizing when our normal coping mechanisms aren't working. Our response is usually to do it five times more, instead of thinking, maybe it's time to try something new.
Prisons We Choose to Live Inside