We did not have satellite radio or the Internet. We had to make our own electricity by rubbing sticks together. Everyone had six guns apiece, which we used to fight world wars. (There has not been a good world war for too long, and kids have gotten needlessly soft.) When children misbehaved, their parents were strongly encouraged to hit them with a rod.
Nobody wore safety belts. The water was full of mercury. The fish were full of sewage. Nobody recycled ANYTHING. When someone fell ill, you just hoped and prayed. (More things should be resolved that way: not with regulations or attempts at solutions but by wishing and hoping and thinking and praying. That was good enough for us, and any change in the world since then has been a change for the worse.)
We used to crawl to school uphill both ways in blinding snowstorms. We used to drink water from lead pipes. Some children still do this, but not nearly enough of them. There was smog in the air as thick as a man’s fist. You could smoke on airplanes. In fact, you were encouraged to do so. It was this pointless suffering that made me who I am.
Dare I deny these benefits to the children of today?
I look at kids these days and I despair. They need to man up and solve their own problems. They need to stop demanding to be coddled. Children now are bad and soft, and far too few of them have experienced the grit developed by being needlessly exposed to communicable diseases, or urged to ride bicycles without helmets.
Now, suddenly, they want to get rid of guns, too. The one thing I know is that we cannot stop guns. There is no point in discussing that; that is an immutable aspect of human nature. Children need to toughen up and learn how to care for themselves. They should learn CPR. And they need to stop using rude words when they respond to me, specifically, although I get to use those words back, as it will make them stronger and hardier.
If we let these kids have their way, soon there will not be danger anywhere. They will be able to go to school in the morning and feel confident that they will be able to come home in the evening. This is a radical thing to ask. I remember no such certainty. It is, therefore, undesirable. These children are weak. I do not want my children to live in a better world than the world that I grew up in, or the one we live in now. That would be to admit that things have progressed, and I do not admit that.
That is what conservatism means to me: the ability to pass the dangers and privations of my life on to the generation that will come after. The hope that their lives will be, if not actively worse than mine, then certainly no better. The idea that I suffered not because there were no better choices but because the suffering was inherently good.
If anyone were to think differently, that would be the real tragedy. Children are weak. They are whiners. They deserve my mockery.
If I were forced to spend a single day in which I did not insult the youth, that would be the real tragedy. If I had to let any argument I disagreed with go unanswered, because attacking a child would be ghoulish — that would be letting them win.
I am sick of these children and their demands for safe spaces. Safe spaces! I refuse to modify my argument in any way to reflect the fact that what they are asking to be kept safe from is not words but bullets. I refuse to be silent even for a moment.
When I was young, children were seen but not heard. If children suddenly started to be heard, that would be the greatest tragedy of all.