There is a maxim attributed to the Jesuits that goes: “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man”, meaning that the childhood years are formative. More ancient philosophies going back to to the Greeks and Chinese voice a similar outlook. Modern psychology, thanks in large part to Freud, supports this outlook.
So its frightening when that principle is used for subversive ends. We feel horrified when we hear of children being recruited by rebels and terrorists in Africa and the Middle East, being armed with automatic weapons or being used as involuntary human bombs. What frightens us most, perhaps, is that their minds and outlook are being perverted, just as in another age children living in totalitarian societies were encouraged to “report” the “subversive” activities of their parents and other adults.
We, especially in the contemporary West, value our children and their innocence. We take the view that crimes against children, exploiting them or abusing them is particularly pernicious.
Why then, asks John Taylor Gatto, do we do so systematically, and have this deeply embedded in our culture and educational system? Gatto has written books and essays on this subject. The essay you can read on-line, the book is worth reading in its own right. Continue reading