Abraham Lincoln once observed that “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”
President Lincoln was a wise enough leader to know that failures are inevitable in every walk of life. Whether we are surprised by the unknown, lack the necessary tools, are let down by individuals, or simply are saddled with a bad plan from the outset, we are all sometimes left to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and regroup after landing on our backsides—either literally or metaphorically. That’s life.
However, what concerned Lincoln are those individuals who seem supremely unconcerned with their failures. We do not, of course, want anyone to stomp and scream over every little setback, but there is a huge difference between mature acceptance and not giving a damn. As we grow older and have more life experience, we hope that we learn the coping skills that are necessary for thoughtful persistence rather than dull resignation, and we expect those in positions of trust or authority to care enough to work to improve our world despite encountering disappointments in the course of their duties.
Not every student will succeed. Not every patient will survive. Not every battle will be won. That, too, is life. However, failures are not only inevitable—they are necessary. Our failures often impart our most valuable life lessons because they can reveal our paths to future successes. Although failures today do not guarantee triumphs tomorrow, they are typically the foundation for whatever good may later come in our lives and careers.
Therefore, it is not hard to understand the damage that has been inflicted by a couple of generations of American parenting and public education featuring relentless approval regardless of actual accomplishment or behavior—and participation trophies galore.
We demand grit. However, many parents and teachers—but thankfully not all—have never allowed their children or students the opportunity to develop it by experiencing their own life and educational bumps and bruises. It has already been well-documented that this foolishness has contributed greatly to producing many fragile and fearful adults who have struggled mightily to find their footing in a tough and unforgiving world.
However, this is only half of the problem now facing our nation.
Even if we strive to give all children the sort of adventuresome and fearless upbringing that was once commonplace in America, these life lessons will never take hold—and will actually feel quite pointless—unless two preconditions are met: that children possess both a sense of control over their own destinies and hopes for a better future. If these are absent, all that remains is an empty despair that drives escapism and fantasy. Grit will find no purchase with children and adolescents robbed of their faith in both their personal agency and a bright, exciting future.
These are not independent measures of mental well being. In fact, they wrap around and reinforce one another. Those who feel they have no control over their daily existences are often lacking in hope; those who have no hope typically don’t bother to exercise much control over their lives because there seems little point in bothering to do so. Either way, the paths of those lacking either—or both—are paved with despair, depression, and dysfunction.
So let’s talk about control.
First off, how many children and adolescents are still reeling from America’s fear mongering public health mission that has turned them into prisoners and teaches that to touch a human being or to breathe the same air as another is certain death? The sad parade of ever changing mandates—wear your mask (or two), get a shot (or two), stare at a computer, stay in your house, don’t refuse, obey authority—is designed to engender fear and compel compliance.
It is also a sad fact that our national craziness regarding Covid-19 and it mutations has created a phobia of germs that would have been unthinkable to earlier generations of children who spent afternoons making mud pies and filling their pockets with squirming insects. Moms used to beg their children to wash their hands. Now everyone from babies to the elderly reeks of hand sanitizer, and this abnormal death cult is our new normal. Don’t expect too many cuddles from this traumatized generation.
There is yet more. Well-founded fears of rising crime and violent gangs increasingly circumscribe the movements of children and force them to submit to random searches and metal detectors in schools that are increasingly managed like jailhouses. Any and all strangers are to feared. Group and team activities are suspect. Bullies abound. Fear lurks in the background of the lives of all our children today, and they soon understand that no aspect of the world they inhabit is within their control.
Children also quickly learn to fear free speech, which they are typically taught is actually a tool of totalitarianism that must be restricted—rather than an essential personal freedom. What our young can say or think in school or their supposedly private lives is now scrutinized for thoughtcrimes in a manner that recalls the blind zeal of America’s witch hunting Puritan founders. Every day they see their parents’ own terrors that a misplaced comment or misspoken word could end their careers and impoverish their families because snooping electronics and silicon snitches monitor all that we now do and assiduously record every one of our movements.
And what of hopes for a better future? Do they exist for our nation’s young? I think not.
Climate alarmists take every opportunity to frighten children into quivering fetal positions with charts and graphs—built into their doomsday daily school curriculum—and insist everyone’s horrible deaths from thirst, starvation, and unbearable heat are right around the corner. Apparently, humanity’s doom is close at hand, so there is no point in even trying to have a life.
We used to place people who raced around screeching that the world was about to end into mental institutions; now they are given jobs as professors, and young people pay tuition to be told that their futures feature only an impending extinction preceded by brutal misery.
Apparently, our planet had no heat waves, no cold weather, no floods, no fires, no crop failures, no drought, and no famine before doomsaying became a fabulously lucrative career path, and our ancestors pranced through a world where fresh springs bubbled everywhere, fruits hung from every tree, the temperature was always moderate, the rains gentle, and the forest creatures cute and gentle. Therefore, today all our children can look forward to because they can drive cars, live in comfortable homes, and are cared for by modern medicine is a certain and horrific death as the planet dies around them.
Moreover, with ever more children over the past decades being raised in broken homes, it is unsurprising that so many of them turn into weary cynics about the possibilities for adult love and trust in their own lives. Couple this with today’s easy availability of dehumanizing online pornography—and presto! The closest relationships many sad-eyed adolescents will ever manage is their destructive love affairs with their cell phones, which provide them with the illusion of social connection while simultaneously stunting their interpersonal skills.
Unfortunately, over the past several decades the societally-approved cure for depressed youth has been pharmacological.
Never has any nation in human history been so anxious to drug their children rather than engage with them. Every day in America millions of powerful psychiatric medications with unknown long-term side effects are dispensed in lieu of actual parenting, and the toll has been appalling. More and more children are zombified and taught that the solution to every life difficulty is found in a pill.
We should not be shocked that all forms of adolescent and adult drug and alcohol abuse are at epidemic levels—habits formed in childhood tend to persist. When the drugs and booze fail to fill the gaping holes in their hearts—as is always the case because these substances can neither mentor, support, nor love you—the only remaining option helps to explain the plague of suicide among adolescents and young adults.
Our bizarre trust in brain-altering chemicals explains much about the helplessness and hopelessness of Americans today. Every year we train tens of millions of children to live out the remainder of their lives as addicts.
And there’s more! Now we have seized upon a new way to fill our children with fear and rob them of their hope: Teach them that they live an irredeemably racist society filled with prejudices of every sort. This should ensure that a new generation of nihilists will flourish. Just what we need on top of all the other damage we heap on our nation’s youth: a framework for unending hatred and blame that steals whatever trust we still have in one another and widens the deep divisions in our nation.
We cannot continue this way.
Those who are cruelly and continuously robbed of hope while being subjected to unending monitoring and madness are not going to grow up either healthy or strong. This is a plain fact.
Now look at our country today and connect the dots. Should we be surprised at the many, many pathologies that are now the defining characteristics of an America under siege?
Those children we keep terrifying eventually turn into the adults who are voting today. Those who are fearful, fragile, confused, anxious, addicted, and unattached tend not to make the best choices for either themselves or our country—and are very easily manipulated.
I am not certain how we got to the point where state-sanctioned child abuse has become the norm in America, but perhaps there is a purpose to this insanity. Fearful and discouraged people don’t rebel—they submit—and it is not only the demonstrably paranoid who have begun to believe that we are all lab rats in a massive experiment in mass mind control designed to rob us of our will to resist. Obviously, some have managed to find profit and power in creating the crazy society we are forced to endure today, and suspicions about their true motives are warranted.
Certain days it definitely feels like we are being subjected to shock after shock in order to stupefy us into obeying even the most bizarre and unreasonable instructions without question. Whether this will work in the long run is an open question, but right now we seem unable to find our way out of the bewildering maze to which we have been confined.
Should we be content with the many failures all around us? Should we be more questioning and critical of those now in authority and making decisions that are causing catastrophic harm? It is a concern Abraham Lincoln raised and every generation of Americans must answer for themselves—sooner or later.
However, to continue to accept that which is clearly unacceptable seems the worst choice to make.