When you have a toddler, children’s books, like toys and candies, just naturally appear on the premises. Friends and family members drop them off, they appear in the mail or mysteriously wash up on the mat or in the nook without anyone quite knowing how they got there.
Three generations ago, it might have been possible to just relish the bounty. These days some books are sweet and delicious like apples, others like candy and still others have to be checked for razor blades. Children’s books tell us little about children, but a great deal about adults.
Take ‘Tikkun Olam Ted’.
Ted, a colorful apple-cheeked little boy, occupies a world of equally cartoonish pets. On Sunday, he recycles, on Monday, he reuses the recycling, on Wednesday he volunteers at the animal shelter and so on, until ‘Shabbat’ arrives and then he “rests and dreams of Tikkun Olam.”
Tikkun Olam, a traditional Jewish concept that means the world recognizing G-d as its Supreme Ruler, was rejiggered by secular denominations to mean an evolving set of leftist causes. And that brings us to Tikkun Olam Ted, a little boy whom we are told earned his name “because he wants to help fix the world and make it a kinder better place”. Unlike religious Jewish children’s books, G-d never appears in Tikkun Olam Ted. The little boy has been tragically left to be his own god, to labor for six days to save a faltering world before collapsing on the Sabbath.
‘Parentification’ or expecting children to assume parental roles is a well-worn concept, but not nearly enough attention has been paid to ‘Godification’ which is much the same thing on an existential scale. Every generation since the Boomers has been raised with the knowledge that they are expected to save a declining world because of the sins of their parents and that there is no higher power that can be expected to help them. They’ve been abandoned to do it all alone.
Ted’s real-life counterparts have been both ‘parentified’ and ‘godified’, deprived of the comforts of believing that parents and adults can protect them, and that when they fail, G-d can help. Without responsible adults or divinity, the child is both a miniature adult and a little god. And if these children appear monstrous sometimes, that’s only to be expected from being raised to know that the world is doomed and that somehow they’re expected to do the impossible.
The rise of socialism was closely linked to the decline in faith. Adults who stopped believing in the kingdom of heaven came to believe implausibly that they could create utopia on earth. The Left is a religion whose believers are so difficult to dissuade because they have literally nothing else to believe in. When the angry young men and women fail, as they inevitably must, they put their faith in the next generation of angry young activists to do what they could not do.
That is where Ted and Greta Thunberg come from.
The Left believes that it is saving the future from the past when it is actually destroying the future to validate the destructive ideas of the past. The damage is most keenly felt in the children who are recruits and the testbeds for the exciting new future that is to come. There’s no horrific leftist fad that hasn’t been developed and tested using public education.
Critical race theory has been in schools since at least 1968 when teachers conducted the infamous racist brown/blue eyed experiment. Environmentalism doomsday preaching came soon after. Now it’s down to childhood sexualization and mutilation. Next year it will be something worse. Religion of the traditional kind has been removed from schools, but the leftist cults that have replaced it embody physical and emotional abuse of every possible kind.
Despite all that indoctrination, the children raised this way have nothing to believe in. They are taught to hate all sorts of things and people, but they are never offered a convincing vision of a better future. The adults teaching them have no idea of a better future. How can they provide what they themselves lack? That is the one question that leftists can never answer because they have deliberately set aside the one thing that can make up for human limitations.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama told a delirious crowd trained to repeat back the pseudo-theological slogan, “Yes, we can.” What Obama was really saying was that total mobilization was required. It was a familiar enough message from centuries of leftists.
Anything short of total mobilization would fail. By joining together, we could do anything, the mass ‘We’ could “heal this nation”, “repair this world” and “make this time different than all the rest.” All the rest of the previous leftist revolutions had failed, this one would succeed. The collective, abandoning its individuality, would become a mass man-god capable of anything.
Universal ‘godification’ failed then as it always had before leaving its followers, angrier, more broken and more prone to radicalization. That had always been the revolutionary plan.
“If socialism as a form of human government would be equally or even approximately successful, it must first attain that perfect individual discipline and absolute self-control, self-abnegation, self-surrender, and self-devotion to the good of the whole community that one sees in a commonwealth of ants,” Rev. Dr. Henry C. McCook had argued a long time ago.
We are the ‘We‘ of Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel that we are still waiting for. The only true socialist answer is to sacrifice for the whole by abandoning our individuality, to meet a mechanistic universe on its own terms by making mankind into a machine. And no one wants to do it.
Unable to become ants or machines, and faced with the impossibility of being gods, existential despair spills over into political self-hatred and self-mutilation. From critical race theory events to the transgender mania, there is an unprecedented appetite for degradation and destruction. Unlike the counterculture era, there is little self-gratifying about these exercises. They’re frantic efforts to destroy the face in the mirror: a face both narcissitically worshiped and despised.
W.H. Auden’s pacifistic apologetic for Nazi Germany, “What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done, Do evil in return” applies generationally to schoolchildren abused by the Left’s culture wars Each generation, in the grip of a new era of leftist narcissism and despair, has broken the next generation further by robbing it of the great birthright of the future: hope.
Pandora’s box has been opened and there’s nothing left inside. There’s only Tikkun Olam Ted and a million children like him, told that they are the ones that their parents and the world have been waiting for, all they have to do is recycle, protest and demand a brave new world.
G-d is the ultimate and final antidote to despair. In His absence, there are only different flavors of despair for those who want to imagine a better world. ‘Godification’ is the great despair lurking at the end of all leftist schemes. The ‘godified’ men fall, their collectives come apart, the experiments collapse and then having learned nothing, they ‘godify’ their children.
Is it any wonder that their children despair even before they arrive at puberty?
Children are naturally happy. Hope is innate to a child’s heart under even the worst conditions because they cannot conceive that things will steadily get worse. That is what the Left teaches them. It ‘parentifies’ them and then ‘godifies’ them, telling them that they must be the adults and then that they must change the world or everything around them will be destroyed.
One of the most incomprehensibly horrifying phenomena in our society is the rise in child suicides. One recent study based on poison center calls found suicide attempts through poison and pills among children 10 to 12 had quadrupled from 1,058 in 2010 to 5,606 in 2020.
10-year-old girls are hanging themselves and 9-year-old boys are shooting themselves. The numbers shot up during lockdowns with a 47% increase in suicide ER visits among 5-8 year olds and 182% higher among 9- to 12-year-olds. But even in previous years, the rates were horrifying. Why? Go ask Tikkun Olam Ted and his real-life peers whose childhoods were stolen.
Adults discover to their painful chagrin that they cannot be gods. But what happens to children when they are confronted with the knowledge that there is no future and everything is on them?
Turning children into adults does not make them men and women. Inflicting responsibilities and knowledge on them that they cannot bear destroys their childhood without giving them the strength or maturity to make the necessary decisions. ‘Godified’ adults are despairing and committing suicide at great rates. So are ‘Godified’ children.
No human being can shoulder all the burdens of the world. Least of all children. And yet that is what the Left demands of all people. Despair has become commonplace, not only among leftists, but among some conservatives, who see everything as hopeless. Without the conviction that, as George Washington reportedly put it during the Constitutional Convention, “the rest is in the hands of God”, a natural despair sets in at the hopelessness of the great tasks ahead of us.
The countervailing force to the despair of ‘godification’ is hope and faith in G-d. History and human nature tell us conclusively that ‘godification’ will always fail. No cult of personality, no mass movement, can do everything. We do everything we can and then we know, as Washington did, that “the rest is in the hands of God” and then we can do anything.