221. Ruining Lives

I suspect that we’re the only species given to wondering whether we’re ruining our children’s lives. Most of us provide the basic necessities, and teach our children strategies for getting those necessities for themselves
when they have to stop relying on us. Those are pretty fundamental tasks for adults, and though we’ve evolved enough to not necessarily know what’s good for us (pandas eat bamboo; they don’t add Bamboo Helper or defrost Bamboo Nuggets), we’re pretty much like other animals in that way.
But we go way beyond providing basic necessities and teaching survival
skills. We aspire, and hope our children will aspire, to greatness, morality, happiness, and all that. We try to make our planet and our species better. There are many disagreements about how to do that. Some people go abroad to spread some Word or Other, or to try to solve problems. Some stay here and get involved in various earth-saving or humanity-saving careers. Many work with children, hoping to influence young minds by parenting and/or teaching. However we choose to do it, many of us try to work for the survival and/or improvement of our home and species.
Also unlike other animals, we have doubts. We wonder whether we are messing up our children’s lives by saying the wrong things, enforcing the wrong policies, emphasizing what should be de-emphasized. Maybe I’m not giving the other animals enough credit (or maybe I’m giving them too much); maybe they wonder, too. But I don’t think so. I think they just get food, find shelter, and try to survive. They try to get their species to survive, too, but not by writing articles, developing curriculum, hiring tutors, preaching, or legislating. And as for future generations, I don’t think they think far beyond their own children.
So what’s my point? I’m sure when I started writing this article, I had a point to make. I usually do, when I write these articles; they’re my
attempts to do good work. I guess my point is that maybe we can lighten up a little. The little mistakes we make as we raise our children aren’t going to destroy them. My parents made mistakes, and I’ve assured them that they’ve been good parents. I’ve made mistakes, and my children still give me pretty good grades. I think we ought to continue trying to find better ways to help our children, and we ought to keep working to make our planet more livable. But I don’t think we’re ruining lives by screwing up now and then.

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