42. MENTAL HEALTH

There are serious concerns about mental health, especially among the young, in today’s society.  I maintain that there are not so much mentally ill people as there is a misfit society into which people find it difficult to fit.

There are troubles, true.  There are the pandemic and Climate Change, which have a tendency to cause anxiety and stress, but many folk have difficulty coping with anxiety and stress nowadays, where once they were more resilient.  I lay some of the blame on the modern practice of wrapping our children in cotton wool.  We do not even dare reprimand them harshly for fear of squashing their self-esteem.  As a consequence the girls with healthy self-esteem become spoiled brats  and obnoxious princesses and grow into shallow, self-absorbed shrews and narcissistic bitches, and the boys become spoiled brats and wild young hoydens who grow into vain egotistical cads or act out as psychopaths.   Many of the remainder wilt on the vine in serious bouts of depression and attempted suicide, drug taking and alcoholism.   At the very least they are bundles of self-doubt and anxiety.

Children need discipline.  A certain Dr. Spock, in the 1960s, began the satanic message of “spare the rod”, in order, he claimed, to save our precious children’s egos.   No longer was it good enough to answer “Why?” with “Because I said so.”  We had to reason with our children at the same time as schools gave up teaching them the benefits of reasoning.

At the same time, too, mothers began to enter the workforce and were no longer at home to reinforce good behaviour.  Or when they were home they were too exhausted to do so. And we were persuaded that children should be heard as well as seen, and from infancy.  Our children became precocious and dangerously deluded as to their own wisdom.  They also learnt the strength of emotional  blackmail.   Wail loudly enough for the public to pay attention and you can get what you want because parents have to save public face.  Children have not learnt the skill of delayed gratification, or how to cope when gratification is denied.

To smack or not to smack has become a topic for heated debate.  Self-righteous parents who believe that “violence breeds violence” do not reckon on the curiosity of children who wonder if violence really does hurt, and will try inflicting pain on the neighbour’s kids or their own siblings, or even on themselves, in experimentation.

Preventing their involvement in dangerous escapades while very young is also counter-productive.  Young Johnny,  – or Jonathan, or Shaun, or Demitri, or whatever Johns are called nowadays – if forbidden to swing on the monkey bars at age ten, may swing from the roof-rack of a car a few years later out of sheer curiosity.

Our experts tell us we should listen to our children ‘s troubles and empathise.  That can get us into heaps of trouble.  I say, make light of their troubles unless they really are something big like terminal cancer.   A broken heart in puppy love is best overcome by pointing out that they have a few years left to find someone else.  A failed examination is a set-back that can be used as a lesson to study harder, or to take on a different subject or career.   The pandemic, we can point out, is being managed by scientists and politicians who are slowly beating the problem.  Climate Change likewise.  Let them know the latter are problems for adults to worry about, and that adults have them in hand.  They can worry about them if they still exist when they are adults.  We put too much concern on young shoulders, and then become concerned ourselves when they can’t handle it.    We take ourselves and our children too seriously.  We need to laugh more.

Academically and professionally we are adopting all the bad traits of Chinese society without the benefits.  At least in China, children are in no doubt as to who is in charge.  That can be very reassuring.

One big problem with our society, like China’s, is that we now have a one or two child unwritten policy.  It is too expensive to have more than two children,  because we believe we have to give them everything they want or they will be deprived.

Two generations ago hand-me-downs were stock-in-trade, and second-hand or packing case furniture was standard  I remember my father getting up on cold winter nights to drape his Army great coat over me, because there were five children in the household and there were not enough blankets to go around.   Far from feeling deprived, I felt honoured that my father got out of bed to tend my needs, and the Army great coat was as warm as three blankets.

My mother didn’t have the energy to read to me at night after running a household of seven persons all day, but my elder brother read to my sister, my twin and me, and we in turn read to my younger brother.  It was my elder brother Jack who taught me how to tie my shoe-laces and how to tell the time.  He also taught me to drive years later.  We actually deprive our young when we give them only one or no siblings.   One more is competition.  Two more makes a team. Perhaps this is worthy of thought: which is more valuable to a child, a couple of siblings or the latest electronic gadgets whenever they come on the market?  Maybe your gaggle of children will find ways to make enough pocket money to buy their own electronic gadgets, if left to their own devices.  Play with peers is a marvelous creative juice.

Giving little Jonathan or Johanna a couple of siblings will take some of the strain off parenting.  They can walk to school together, perhaps, relieving you of taxicab duties.   Train the eldest child and then let them be.   They will thrive on the responsibility.

You will be thinking that I believe that large families will solve the problem of the prevalence of mental illness in today’s society.  You wouldn’t be far wrong.  Many children of two generations ago were mentored by an older sibling rather than a parent.  They weathered World War 11.  This generation’s children seem ill-equipped to weather the pandemic but they are taking to the responsibility of caring for senior citizens’ welfare like ducks to water.  Even though they are not seriously affected by the virus they dutifully wear their masks,  social distance, and don’t complain when their social activities are curtailed.   Discipline and responsibility are the order of the day, and they are thriving on it.  I think we will come through this pandemic, in Australia, anyway, grandly.

Another major problem with our modern society is that the academics have decided that men and women are, or should be, equal.  What rot!  Men are physically stronger.  Though there are exceptions to every rule we should not therefore make the exceptions the rule.  Men throughout history have been the hunters and women the nesters.  We cannot overturn that rule in one or two generations without overturning society.   We are too impatient.  And meditating seriously on the consequences of eventually overturning an enduring trait in history, do we really want those consequences?   Like the French, I find the difference between male and female intriguing and delightful.

What is happening at present is that women in first world democratic countries are ruling the roost, so that male rational thinking is discredited and female emotional thinking takes precedence.  Males are urged to express their feelings, and as males have considerable testosterone, their feelings are usually more physical and violent.  This may account for the extreme domestic violence which now occurs.  I think statistics will bear out my statement that there is more violent uxoricide now than there was a generation ago.  Men need to control their feelings, far more so than do women.  For them not to do so leads to anger and violence.  Men tend to express grief as anger – at others or themselves.  Before we hammer home the story of expressing one’s feelings, we need to urge people to understand themselves fully.  A man does not get in touch with his yin by dealing with female pressure outside himself.

The western world needs to slow down.  We need to concentrate less on work and more on our inner workings.  Working a forty hour week to obtain “things” for our partner and our child(ren) does not satisfy the “inner self”.   We are becoming very superficial.  Still waters run deep.  Let us slow down, let us get to know ourselves, laugh at ourselves.

Laughing at ourselves is another thing we have lost.  We are forbidden to laugh at a lot of things which are odd and out of place, for fear of offending the odd and out of place.   The Irish pride themselves on being odd and out of place.  They are happy to laugh at themselves and have others laugh at them, yet even Irish jokes are frowned on nowadays.    That is sad.

Our precious little princesses’ feelings must be protected at all costs, and little princesses grow up with an inflated opinion of themselves and no sense of humour.  Men are more inclined to laugh at themselves and their mates, and are considered thoughtless, unkind, even nasty.   We need more of a balance.   In the western world, even though the inclination of women is still to nest rather than forge a career, the few exceptions to the rule keep pushing for women to advance themselves in a “man’s world.” They make life topsy-turvy.  If we had a thirty hour week, women could advance themselves and still nest, and men would probably be willing to take more of the share of the “home” work.   It might mean a lesser income for all, but if we did not feel compelled to squander it on “things” we would not miss the extra income.

On the other hand, a thirty hour week would leave space for people who are presently unemployed to get into the workforce.  It would, overall, boost the economy.

I hope politicians and unionists are reading this.  We have little time to turn things around now.  We are being too tardy with change.

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