This piece by David French is something I’ve mulled over for awhile because I’ve read both of Jonathan Haidt’s books mentioned in the piece. I’ve also found it’s not just about trying to talk to conspiracy theorists. Ideologies are so entrenched currently, all the mantra is these days is to show someone else just how wrong they are, and BOOM… they’ll see it my way!
This is a must read. It challenges. There are things to be argued over. There are things to be implemented. Lukianoff and Haidt present much needed material to challenge the deep divisions of our current society.
The picture painted in The Coddling of the American Mind is harsh. We’ve truly had a lot go wrong and we’ve put a lot of fear and anxiety into our lives, and much of it that is unnecessary. Is there any hope? They give some ideas, thankfully.
First, start with childhood. Colleges definitely need work (and these two university professors know those issues), but why not start kids off better?
Here are some quick points they offer:
Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child. (Let them have some small risks early and grow the space for risk as they get older.)
Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded. (HINT: Quit watching “Criminal Minds” and “Law and Order: SVU”.)
The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. (In other words, you can find good in a Republican AND a Democrat. Hard to believe, I know.)
Help schools to oppose the great untruths. (Demand more recess!)
Limit and refine device time. (Well… those first four seem doable!)
Support a new national norm: service or work before college.
The term a few years ago was “helicopter parenting.” I’m not sure if there is a new phrase. There has to be in some cases, because it can be witnessed that parents are a LOT closer to their kids and their activities than a helicopter.
Our current era of high anxiety has been fed directly by our addiction to social media. It has given social media hackers and experts all the fuel they need to exploit and manipulate an entire culture in ways we would laugh at a generation or two ago.
When the Soviet Union was collapsing in the last 1980s, I read an article in The Atlantic about a region I’d never heard of: the Balkans. In that article, the writer told a tale I found fantastic and almost unbelievable. His contention was that during the Cold War, it was good for the U.S. and the Soviet Union to be the big gorillas in Europe. It kept this Balkan region from exploding.