Childish Adults in Neverland

By | September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

Remember Michael Jackson’s Neverland, the private amusement park he created for children, and for himself? It was based on the fictional place in J. M. Barrie’s novels, where Peter Pan took Wendy. Of course, it was called Neverland because it never existed. That makes for engaging fiction but really awful politics. Peter Pan never grew up, so he could never have taken care of Wendy ‒ or of himself.

In biology, the retention of juvenile characteristics in adults is called neoteny. In politics, it is called leftism or progressivism. Adult dogs that act like puppies can be charming. Adult humans who act like children can be annoying, even dangerous.

The study of history or biography is no longer popular. As Cicero observed, “Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child.” But for many so-called progressives, this is not a drawback. Many people today are satisfied to remain perpetual children.

Like teenagers, they insist that they are independent adults. But whenever anything goes wrong, they run home. They want “dad” to protect them and pay for necessities, while they spend their money on things they want rather than things they need. They want “mom” to care for them when they get sick, which their unhealthful lifestyle makes more likely.

People who never want to grow up tend to be politically leftist, that is, “progressive.” They want the government to take on the roles of “mom” and “dad.” They want to live beyond their means, while they − and their governments − “max out” their credit cards. They want to live for today, ignoring what happened yesterday, and what it can teach about what may happen tomorrow.

People who never want to grow up tend to be in a hurry, and to be unwilling to take the time to deal with boring details. They pushed through a huge health-care bill that forever changed how we receive − or don’t receive − medical care. In a memorable remark, Speaker Pelosi told us to pass the bill so we could find out what was in it. The details were too time-consuming and complex for their attention-deficit world. They watch 10-second sound bites on TV, play video games, and constantly check cell phones for text messages. How can all this prepare them to be careful, responsible adults?

Growing up with these activities − or rather not growing up − is instead a preparation for a life of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Is the increasing incidence of ADHD real, or is it a reflection of our rushed, electronically controlled lifestyle? Perhaps I could answer that question if I had time, but I’ve got to check my iPhone.

Interestingly, a word for “careful” in German is vorsichtig, meaning “foresight-full.” To be careful is to foresee the possible results of what we are doing, which requires knowledge of what happened when similar things were done in the past. But children in adult bodies do not study history. They are uninterested in what happened before they were born. Children are narcissistic − how could anything that did not involve them be important?

Children in adult bodies imagine that if they dress and act young, they will stay young. Middle-aged men with bellies walk through malls in baseball caps worn backward, tee shirts with vulgar slogans, and veined legs revealed by shorts. Middle-aged women walk through malls vying with their teenage daughters to have the barest midriff, the shortest shorts, or the most tattoos. But such people still grow old − they just do so as emotional and intellectual juveniles.

Children in adult bodies believe they can have better health care for everyone − including unlimited immigrants − at less cost, if only the government ran it. They see that Medicare and Medicaid, which the government runs now, are going broke. Yet they persist in their belief − their fantasy − that if only the government controlled health care, all would be well.

Children in adult bodies know that Marxism failed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam, and Cuba, and it is failing now in Venezuela. But illogically, they believe that “true communism hasn’t been tried yet.” And narcissistically, they believe ‒ they fantasize ‒ that they are smarter and can make Marxism work.

They believe that Marxism works in Neverland.

Children in adult bodies believe that major aspects of the economy would be more efficient, if only the government ran them. They see that the facilities the government runs now, from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Motor Vehicles, are inefficient, unhelpful, or downright hostile. Yet they persist in their belief − their fantasy − that if only the government controlled even more of their lives, all would be well.

Children in adult bodies believe that their motives are good, and they confuse good motives with good results. They want better health care for more people at less cost. So they believe − they fantasize − that they can achieve it without denying care to those who are too old, too sick, or too expensive. They want more equal distribution of wealth. So they believe − they fantasize − that they can achieve it without penalizing and discouraging the productive, while rewarding and encouraging the unproductive. But exactly that has happened wherever redistribution of wealth was tried.

Children in adult bodies want people to like them, so they believe − they fantasize − that if only they treat people kindly, the favor will be returned. They refer respectfully to the unelected boss of Iran as “Supreme Leader,” and to the oppressive regime as the “Islamic Republic” − while more demonstrators are arrested and beaten. They see that some people, from schoolyard bullies to international terrorists, understand only force. Yet they persist in their belief − their fantasy − and do their best to project an image of weakness and indecision that can only encourage bullies to become even more violent.

Children in adult bodies believe that crime is caused by poverty or other social ills, so criminals are victims of society. As a result, the real victims are ignored. If you doubt this, consider the different fates of Kathryn Michelle Steinle and José Inés García Zárate. García, a five-time deportee and drug offender, was found innocent of murder or manslaughter and covered with sympathy, while Steinle was covered with six feet of dirt. The fictional Neverland was a wonderful place. But those who attempt to live there create a world that is both tragic and dangerous.

Children in adult bodies call anyone who disagrees a “fascist,” a “Nazi,” or even “Hitler.” But those who agree with their leftist beliefs are given a pass for any inaccurate statements or questionable actions. If they didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all.

Children in adult bodies want to live in Neverland. But Neverland doesn’t exist, and it never will. In fiction, people who never grow up can enjoy amusing adventures in which the dangers are imaginary. In reality, people who never grow up may enjoy themselves for a time, but sooner or later the all-too-real dangers they ignored catch up with them. And then their fantasy world will be lost to foreclosure, and their real world will become distinctly unpleasant, or even lethal. But then it will be too late.

Whether we like it or not, we live in the real world. We’re adults. Let’s start acting like adults. Neoteny in Neverland just doesn’t work.

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