Friday, October 16, 2015

A brave new world?

Friday, October 16, 2015

I heard on the news this morning about how rail road companies are guarding against people wandering onto tracks and how to detect objects on the tracks that might derail trains.
Maybe I’m a little too much like Mark Twain in that I am nostalgic for a simpler and more innocent past.
As a boy, the tracks were always my pathway to some other world, some better place, a connection that if I touched the metal I could feel in Chicago or San Francisco.
I wandered tracks every chance I got. In fact, the tracks came out on Crooks Avenue allowed me to go to downtown Paterson or downtown Passaic, depending on which way I turned. I often crossed them during my walk to junior high school. Later, when I cut high school, I often wandered down to the freight tracks, hopping on a train that took me north to places like Mahwah and Suffern.
People have always gotten hurt on rail road tracks, a fact of life that in the past did not matter nearly as much as it does today.
Sociologists note that as a society moves from working class to middle class, they become more protective of its kids – part of the social conflict underway currently in America.
I wrote about a playground this week that is not a playground, but a health center, a gated community with rubberized floor and a variety of devices kids have to be educated to use before they are allowed to play there.
In the past, playgrounds were risky places, where kids learned the most basic rule of life: how not to get hurt in a harsh world.
Our movement into middle class also brings up the battle of Planned Parenthood – and the massive amount of abortions it does yearly. In the past, families had lots of kids, and kids often did not survive out of childhood. Like most mammals, we managed to maintain society through breeding. A more protective childhood allows most if not all kids to survive, and so like Huxley’s Brave New World, we select sooner who will be allowed to live, doing away with the pain of losing a child after being born.
The video tapes that right to life activists doctored were far less offensive for the presumption of Planned Parenthood’s ghoulish selling of body parts as was the tone and attitude un-undoctored that showed just how uncaring these defenders of women’s rights were: they cold, calculating and unsympathetic to the idea that they wield the power of life and death. They have become the technicians in the Brave New World who do not see themselves as playing god, but merely stamping out defective parts on an assembly line. This is offensive.
This, of course, is mostly a middle class problem. Immigrants and poor still tend to overproduce babies, and thus continue to concept that more is better for the survival of the species.
The other reason for over protected middle class children has to do with the expense of raising kids these days. Medical and educational costs have been inflated by a greedy system and so each kids becomes nearly as precious as parents seem to see them, and to lose a child to some unfortunate accident on a playground or a rail road track is to lose an investment that cannot simply be made up by having another child.
Over protected kids, of course, produce spoiled, self-indulgent adults, who assume that because they were treated special in childhood that they must be special in the real world, and so we get this concept of entitlement: they can do what they want to do when they want to do it, regardless of the impact it has on others around them.
Some anthropologists have also noted that the safer a society feels the more stupid and reckless individuals become. Intelligence is a survival mechanism, something that is often produced in order to overcome danger.
Until 9/11 America has largely escaped many of the dangers faced in other parts of the world, a perfect breeding ground for an overly careless population. And because many grew up with the parents protecting them, they submit more easily to state mandated Homeland Security measures that turn America into one vast prison, subjecting us to searches we would not have tolerated a generation ago all in the assumption of keeping us safe.
I miss the rail road tracks. I miss the idea that I have to look out for myself and protect myself, and cannot rely on some parent or government to make the landscape so safe I never encounter danger.
But as train tracks get closed off, and cars are built so they can run themselves, we grow less intelligent and more reliant on social institutions or the computer apps to do our thinking for us.
It is very sad.


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  2. I remember going to Idlewild Airport, now JFK with my dad to watch the planes take off, and land. This is how I became a flying buff. Anyway we were free to wander the ramp even walk onto the the area where planes were parked.

    I remember walking up the stairs of a parked DC-3, and looking in. It was far smaller inside than I thought.

    If one tried that today in our insane "Age of Terror" at the very least we'd be arrested. Being Colored we'd likely be shot. yeah even as I was a 9 year old kid...they'd shoot.

    This 'is' indeed an "Age of Terror".

    This country has for some become as you say a prison...sometimes an execution chamber as well. As we have seen you don't actually have to be guilty of anything. You just have to be where the police think you shouldn't be.