To the Editor:
Reading about Avalon’s recent curfew brought to mind a quote by the philosopher Hannah Arendt: “Every generation, civilization is invaded by barbarians – we call them ‘children’.”
Throughout history, barbarians have been dealt with in two ways: domination or assimilation. They were either subjugated by force, or they were invited to share in the privileges and responsibilities of civilization.
It’s a shame that so many commentators seem to favor the former approach in Avalon.
The focus on law enforcement and their inability to detain these children is wrongheaded – as is the politicization of the matter by Mayor Pagliughi and others.
Rather than calling the cops, our first instinct should be to talk to these kids directly and help them see the error of their ways. Humans are born with a lot of preloaded software, but we don’t come with an innate appreciation for public safety and property rights.
Unfortunately, our society rarely gives children that kind of respect. Too many people prefer kids to be unseen and unheard. It’s why our public education system exists in its present form – to segregate the barbarians from civilization.
As expressed by the educator and youth advocate John Taylor Gatto, it is shameful that we “cannot imagine a better way to do things than locking children up all day in cells instead of letting them grow up knowing their families, mingling with the world, [and] assuming real obligations.”
We cannot expect these kids to value something when they have no ownership of it, which is why we need to engage with them as full-fledged members of society. Otherwise, this delinquent behavior will continue.
Kids will be kids until they become adults, and barbarians will remain barbarians until they have been assimilated. So, let’s dedicate ourselves to helping them make that transition sooner rather than later.
It’s the civilized thing to do.