It’s hard not to worry about the younger generation today. Young people today have such easy access to so many opportunities and privileges that they don’t realize just how fortunate they really are. Granted, the majority of young people on the planet don’t have access to these privileges, but it’s the accepted convention to ignore that fact during Western-centric rants such as these. So when I look around at all the soft, spoiled, coddled little brats wallowing in amoral indulgent narcissistic hedonistic techno-nihilism, whining to their parents for more money to buy more electronics so they can organize more viral humiliation and bullying campaigns and afterwards unwind with more sexting, I can only shake my head and wish that I was young again so I too could enjoy this enviable modern coming-of-age.
But it’s only too true that kids these days don’t realize how easy they’ve got it. For your average schoolchild today, the trip to and from school is made in a cushy SUV the size of a shanty town on the outskirts of Dhaka. It’s all they’ve ever known, so it’s hard for them to imagine any different. But it wasn’t so long ago that everyone walked to school, on their own two feet, or on very rudimentary prosthetic feet. It was just normal — nobody complained, except for the complainers, and they were beaten, and that was also normal. In addition, everyone else was beaten too, and that was normal too. In general, there was a lot of beating, and that helped keep everyone in shape. Doling out a beating can require a sustained strenuous effort, and taking a beating is no picnic either — you’d be surprised how many calories you expend when you lose several units of blood. What with the constant beatings and the general popularity of involuntary calorie-restricted diets through many sectors of society, there was certainly no concern about an obesity epidemic. And it was even tougher in the neighbourhood of the legendary artist Escher, where, as he later told his eye-rolling grandkids, he had to walk between home and school, uphill both ways, literally. Growing up in the lawless chaos of these mean streets, it’s no surprise that M.C. Escher emerged as the first gangsta rapper in early 20th century Holland, before he abruptly turned his back on his roots and became a mathematically-inspired graphic artist. It’s a shame, really, since with his profound geometric imagination and his gift for mesmerizing visual puzzles and paradoxes, he could have come up with some really mind-blowing gangsta hand signs. And while on the topic, say what you want about Vanilla Ice, but it takes no small amount of dexterity to make his trademark ‘V’ hand sign.
It boggles the mind to imagine what kinds of sexual positions Escher preferred. It is quite possible that his predilections in this arena led to his untimely death, though this is simply idle conjecture. As for Vanilla Ice, it remains to be seen whether his preferences in matters of love will ultimately lead to his demise. Which brings me back to my main point: kids today need more beatings. Well, injuries, really. Whether or not they are the result of beatings is irrelevant, but it’s clear that administering beatings is one of the most direct and effective ways to increase the child injury rate. Ordinary folks and pontiffs alike will often pontificate, spittle flying and neck veins bulging, about how when they were kids, they didn’t have any namby-pamby bike helmets or hockey helmets or seat belts or enforcement of drunk driving laws or baby car seats or toys with rounded edges or laws against smoking or taboos against drinking when pregnant or restrictions against DDT use or against corporal punishment of schoolchildren or against capital punishment of schoolchildren by means of injection of DDT, and they all still turned out just fine. Sure, it’s an open question as to whether they actually turned out just fine, and sure, countless thousands of others were killed or badly injured along the way, but still, I find those objections boring, and I see a beguiling simplicity in the story that the problem with the world today is that everyone’s gotten too soft.
It makes sense, when you stop to think about it – hurting someone improves their quality of life. It’s that simple. I know some of you are still skeptical about this, but consider that no less authoritative of a philosopher than Friedrich Nietzsche espoused this viewpoint when he said “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.” And when someone with that imposing of a moustache talks, you’d best shut up and listen. For example, say you’re in a car accident, and you’re paralyzed and in a coma because you were opting not to wear a seatbelt because you were doing the Übermensch thing. Well ok, this particular case is a bit tricky to figure out, but if Nietzsche says you’re stronger after the accident, then you must be stronger. Though, I reluctantly confess, another option has also occurred to me. Perhaps the truth is a little bit more complicated: perhaps the saying should be “What does not kill me, makes me stronger, or maims me.” I guess to cover all the bases there should also be a few other options: “What does not kill me makes me stronger, or maims me, or has a neutral effect on me, or makes me feel alienated, or makes me feel like going to the fridge and getting a snack and watching TV or something.” I think that should about cover it. So all in all, it still looks like it’s a go-ahead to beat children at any opportunity. The worst-case scenario is that they’ll die, which most reasonable people will agree is an acceptable risk; but statistically speaking, the kids are far more likely to just end up a bit maimed, alienated, watching TV or something, and snacking.